Boys Basketball: Miracle Marist hoping to unseat SimeonBogen # 23 Luwayne Pipkins guards Marist # 12 Tyler Oden in first half action of their 4A sectional semifinal played at Argo HS in Summit, IL on Wednesday night 3/7/12.|Judy Fidkowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2012 6:28PM
Playing a nationally-ranked Simeon team Friday, Marist will no doubt be heavy underdogs.
But considering how the RedHawks got to the Argo Sectional title game, nothing seems impossible for this upset-minded squad.
Winning its own regional final, Marist upset Curie 63-62, scoring five points in the final 45 seconds.
Stunning Bogan Wednesday in a sectional semifinal, the RedHawks trailed by 15 points late, scored 10 points in the final 1:10 of regulation, and pulled out a 68-63 overtime win.
“I don’t think anyone outside of our team expected us to win these last two games,” Marist’s Nic Weishar said. “No matter who we play, we’re going to play the same way. We have the heart to do it (and win).”
Marist (26-5) will play Simeon for the 4A Argo sectional title at 7:30 p.m. The RedHawks are chasing the program’s first sectional title.
Simeon (29-1) is coming off a 52-42 win over Young in its own semifinal and is currently ranked sixth in the nation by ESPN.
Since defeating rival Brother Rice in a regional semi, Marist has beaten the second- and third-seeded teams in the sectional in Curie and Bogan respectively, two of the Public League’s best. Top-seeded Simeon is the two-time defending 4A state champ.
Simeon’s Jabari Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward, is the top-ranked junior in the state. Marquette-bound senior forward Steve Taylor (6-9) and junior shooting guard Kendrick Nunn (6-1) also key the offense.
The RedHawks will not be making any drastic changes to their game strategy, relying on what put them in this position.
“We’ll come in with the same game plan we do for every game,” Marist’s L.J. McIntosh said. “We play hard and play our way. We know if we can exploit their weaknesses, we can win just like we’ve done the last three games.”
Through the playoff run, a new hero has stepped up each game for the RedHawks. Against Curie, it was Lexus Williams drilling the game-winning three-pointer in the closing seconds.
Mounting a comeback against Bogan, Weishar, McIntosh and Tyler Oden all came through with huge scores for the RedHawks. McIntosh hit three fourth quarter three-pointers with Weishar scoring six points in the final 43 seconds of regulation.
“This is all a coach can ever ask for,” Marist coach Gene Nolan said. “Our kids together, they believe in themselves and in each other. Sometimes when you’re down, you find a way to win. I’m thrilled. I could not be prouder of a group of guys.”
If the last two thrilling win have showed anything, it’s that until the clock winds down for good, the game isn’t over for the RedHawks.
“This team has never done that (given in when trailing),” Nolan said. “They still believe, and they’ll do everything they can.”