MARENGO – Johnsburg junior Zach Toussaint scores at a prolific rate, whether it be from well behind the 3-point line or by driving into the lane for pull-up shots.
Skyhawks coach Mike Toussaint, Zach’s uncle, feels he is even more adept with another part of his game.
“He’s an even better facilitator than he is a scorer at times,” Mike Toussaint said. “For the most part, he makes good decisions down the stretch.”
It was Toussaint setting up others that gave the Skyhawks the advantage at a crucial point in Friday’s Kishwaukee River Conference game. He drove and dished to Jacob Gutierrez for a layup, then did the same for Garrett Straulin, then hit Mason Sobiesk on the left wing, and Sobiesk pulled up for a 14-footer.
Just like that, the Skyhawks’ lead went from two points to eight, and they held off Marengo, 66-59, for the victory at Homer “Bill” Barry Gymnasium.
“They would try and double-team me high,” said Zach Toussaint, who averages 22.6 points and 5.4 assists a game. “I tried to penetrate and I’d get another guy at me, so that leaves someone open, just hit the open guy. It’s better than making a volleyball (line) 3-pointer.”
Toussaint still finished with
22 points and hit four 3s to lead the Skyhawks, but those passes came at a pivotal moment.
“They made better decisions than we did in the fourth quarter,” Indians coach Nate Wright said. “A player like [Toussaint], when you don’t do exactly what you have to do, if you give him that window, he’s going to take it and knock down a shot or make a good decision for his team. They had their opportunity, and they took advantage of it.”
Johnsburg (13-10, 6-1 KRC) hit almost everything in the first quarter and jumped out to a 27-14 lead.
Guard Alec Smith hit three 3s, and the Skyhawks were 10 of 16 on field goals.
“They were running a 1-2-2 (zone), and we realized Zach was getting a lot of attention, and he was able to drive and kick it to me, and I hit some shots,” said Smith, who scored 11. “Them being so focused on Zach allowed me to get some shots off.”
Marengo (12-8, 3-4) rallied in the second quarter and cut the lead to 32-30 by halftime. The game went back and forth through the third and early in the fourth.
Toussaint hit a 3 with 6:46 to go in the fourth to take the lead for good. Marengo’s Blaine Borhart made a three-point play with 4:50 left to make it 50-48 just before Toussaint handed out his key assists. The Indians could not get closer than four points after that.
“We hit some shots, we were better with the ball most of the time and we rebounded better (in the fourth),” Mike Toussaint said. “We got stops on the defensive end and didn’t give them second chances.
“We did a good job taking care of the ball.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Johnsburg, jr., G
Toussaint scored 22 points and handed out eight assists to lead the Skyhawks in their victory over Marengo. He had three assists at a crucial time in the fourth quarter as Johnsburg pushed its lead from two to eight points.
7: Free throws in seven attempts for Marengo guard Blaine Borhart in the first quarter. He finished with a game-high 27 points.
AND ANOTHER THING...
Johnsburg’s players went up to Marengo center Alejandro Rodriguez before the game and each gave him a handshake or a hug, along with a card signed by the team. Rodriguez’s father, Jose, died in a car accident Jan. 14. “I got choked up watching them go up and do that for that kid,” Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint said. “I’m really proud of my guys. They’re a class group.”
Johnsburg 66, Marengo 59
JOHNSBURG (66): Toussaint 6 6-8 22, Smith 3 2-2 11, Sobiesk 1 4-6 6, Frazier 3 2-2 8, Groves 2 0-0 5, Paprocki 1 0-2 2, Gutierrez 4 1-2 9, Straulin 1 1-2 3, Muehlfelder 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 16-25 66.
MARENGO (59): Borhart 7 12-14 27, Fischer 4 0-1 9, Rodriguez 2 1-1 5, Schirmer 2 1-2 5, Kirchner 1 1-2 3, Bertrand 1 2-4 4, Wascher 1 0-0 2, Smith 1 0-0 3. Totals: 19 17-24 59.
Johnsburg 27 5 12 22 – 66
Marengo 14 16 15 14 – 59
3-point goals: Johnsburg 8 (Toussaint 4, Smith 3, Groves), Marengo 2 (Borhart, Fischer). Total fouls: Johnsburg 20, Marengo 19. Fouled out: Schirmer. Technical fouls: Sobiesk.