ELMHURST – Facing opponents from larger playoff classes during the regular season is all part of getting ready for the playoffs for IC Catholic’s boys basketball team.
Now that the postseason is here, the Knights believe those regular-season challenges have them ready for the Class 2A playoffs.
“Playing the large schools like Riverside Brookfield and Glenbard South, they bring physicality and it’s not just two or three guys, they go seven or eight deep,” IC head coach TJ Tyrrell said. “Having to get out of traps and handle physical pressure will help us for the 2A playoffs, where the physicality is not as intense.”
Glenbard South is a Class 3A school and Riverside Brookfield is one of the top teams in Class 4A. The Knights (12-13) played one of their best games of the season in a 71-66 loss against RB on Feb. 5.
“We battled the whole way, and we were down two with 38 seconds to go,” Tyrrell said. “It was one of our best games of the year even though we were on the short end of it.”
Glenbard South topped IC on Feb. 16, but Tyrrell said he was pleased with the team’s effort.
The Knights used different starting lineups and rotations throughout the season, and Tyrrell thinks he’s found the right combination.
“Garrett Cheng entered our starting lineup and he might not be a big stat guy but he has a high IQ and he plays smart defensively,” the coach said. “Amari Reed has also played more to get ready, and he’s been doing a nice job.”
With seniors Angel Ramirez, Will Lyles and Troy Burrows leading the way, Cheng and Reed don’t have to be big producers on offense. Tyrrell said Lyles and junior Jordan Rowell have been instrumental as leaders coming down the stretch.
“They’re outstanding teammates. They are why a guy like me gets into coaching,” Tyrrell said. “They are coachable and they bust their butts for the coaches and their teammates.
“They want to win and they want to compete, and they will do whatever has to be done to do that.”
The Knights, a No. 4 seed in the subdivided Clifton section, will face either No. 5 Lisle or No. 10 Westmont in an Aurora Christian regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24. Aurora Christian is the No. 1 seed, but the regional is there for the taking for the Knights.
“The regional is wide open,” Tyrrell said. “Aurora Christian is a good team, but any team has a chance.”
Timothy Christian also is part of the Aurora Christian regional. The Trojans are the No. 7 seed and will face No. 6 St. Edward in a regional quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Feb. 22. The winner faces Aurora Christian at 6 p.m. Feb. 24 in a semifinal game.
The Trojans have had some ups and downs this season but are playing well coming down the stretch. They were winners in four of their past five games heading into the regular-season finale against Chicago Christian on Feb. 19.