CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Thornton proved Wednesday it's not how you start, but how you finish.
And unfortunately for the Wildcats, they couldn't finish what they started.
After hitting six 3-pointers in the opening quarter, Thornton went cold from behind the arch the rest of the way and eventually faltered in a 72-57 Class 4A Marian Regional semifinal loss to Crete-Monee.
The Warriors face host Marian Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the championship.
Thornton (14-12) came out firing from the outset, nailing 6-of-7 treys, including three from junior Justin Taylor. And in shooting 7-of-9 from the floor collectively in the opening period, the Wildcats managed to grab a 22-17 lead after the first eight minutes.
"We were taking those shots because they were there," Thornton coach Troy Jackson said. "I don't think we fell in love with the 3 (-point shot) tonight, those were just our looks."
And in the final three quarters, Crete-Monee gave its opponent plenty of looks from beyond the arch, but the Wildcats racked up plenty of misses.
After Maurice Buchanan buried another bomb to put Thornton ahead 27-24 with 4:40 remaining in the first half, Crete-Monee (19-8) became defensively stout.
The Warriors limited Thornton to just 11-of-26 shooting from the floor over the final 16 minutes, and just 1-of-9 from 3-point land.
The Wildcats scored just five points on nine field-goal attempts in the second frame, and also committed six turnovers as Crete-Monee moved ahead 32-27 at the break
Laquon Treadwell took over for the Warriors in the third period, scoring eight points and grabbing four of his game high 11 rebounds in a 19-point quarter for Crete-Monee. The senior forward finished with 19 points and also dished out five assists.
Thornton managed to stick around in the third quarter despite six more turnovers, but after Treadwell fed guard Tyler Williams for his third 3-pointer of the game and the first double-digit lead of the game (48-37) for either team, the Wildcats couldn't recover.
"I just think it was important to play hard and stick to our game plan tonight," Treadwell said. "Thornton was definitely hot to start the game, but we didn't panic, and we just played through it and let our defense cool them off."
Williams finished with 13 points for the Warriors, and Marvie Keith added 12. Taylor led all scorers with 26 points, including five of the Wildcats' nine triples. Rayshoun Bruce chipped in 10 for Thornton.
Crete-Monee's victory sets up a meeting with regional host Marian (26-3) in the title tilt on Friday, a game Crete-Coach Tom Cappel said his team's 3-point defense must be on point.
"We won't get away with the kind of defense we came out with tonight," Cappel said. "We recovered quickly tonight, and we were fortunate, but we'll need to shut Marian down from behind the arch Friday."