WOODSTOCK – Marian Central senior A.J. Golembiewski turned a forgettable shooting night into one he will always remember with one shot.
The 6-foot-4 guard, who had seen 13 field-goal attempts clang off the rim, did not hesitate when he received a pass from guard Jakub Baranski as the clock neared 10 seconds remaining with the Hurricanes trailing Johnsburg by two points.
“I asked coach (Curtis Price) what I was doing, and he said I was flicking the ball and to follow through,” Golembiewski said. “That’s all I was thinking, to follow through. It felt a lot better. Coming out of my hand, I knew it was going in.”
Golembiewski’s 3-pointer from the left corner swished through, and Marian held off one final Johnsburg possession for a 54-53 nonconference victory Wednesday at Landers Pavilion.
“He’s such a good shooter, but sometimes [Golembiewski] flicks the ball and he’s not following through,” Price said. “You have to have the right technique. You got to say goodbye to the basketball, and he wasn’t doing that. For him to have a shooting night like that and still come out and take that shot takes a lot of courage and a lot of heart. He showed that with that shot.”
Marian (8-12) knew Johnsburg (9-8) was going to look to guard Zach Toussaint for its final possession. Toussaint, who averages 24.3 points a game, inbounded to Alec Smith, who passed the ball right back. Hurricanes guard Bryce Radcliffe picked up Toussaint at half-court.
Toussaint dribbled to the left of the key, then cut back and drove the right side of the lane, drawing Marian’s 6-6 Kevin Herbst and 6-4 Charlie Kramer over. Herbst got a piece of Toussaint’s 6-foot shot, and the Hurricanes rebounded and started their celebration.
“[Toussaint] got a decent shot. I thought maybe he could have given it up, but he got a good look,” Skyhawks coach Mike Toussaint said. “I think he could make some better decisions at times, but if he’s taking that last shot, that’s fine. He got to the rim.”
Zach Toussaint felt he should have passed to forward Brody Frazier.
“I got a good look, I probably should have dished it off to Frazier,” Zach Toussaint said. “They were double-teaming me. I could have hit him with a bounce pass for a layup. I thought I had an open lane.”
Toussaint led the Skyhawks with 16 points, Frazier added 13. Baranski led Marian with 13 points, while Radcliffe scored nine, and Thomas Menner added eight.
Sam Limbaugh and Menner, two forwards who are not big scorers, came up big toward the end combining for the eight points before Golembiewski’s winning basket. Menner’s two free throws tied the score at 51 with 2:03 remaining before each team committed a turnover.
The Skyhawks’ Dylan Paprocki, who had not attempted a shot in the game, drained a pair of free throws with 24 seconds remaining for a 53-51 lead.
Marian tried a box-and-one defense most of the game on Toussaint, with Radcliffe and Kramer trading off on guarding him.
“The idea was to make him pass it and not [let him] get the ball back,” Radcliffe said. “He’s a great player; we were just trying to slow down Zach. You could tell by the score it was a fight until the end.”