MARENGO — With Johnsburg up 13 points on Marian Central at halftime Tuesday, Skyhawks guard Zach Toussaint opened the third quarter shooting about as well one can shoot in 3:17 of game time.
The junior shot 5 for 5 and scored 13 points in that span, pushing the Skyhawks lead to 19. Marian Central rallied back, but never did catch the Skyhawks in a 63-58 Johnsburg win in the Class 3A Marengo Regional semifinals.
Toussaint finished with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting with six 3-pointers. He also went 4 for 4 at the free-throw line.
“It’s awesome, it’s fun to watch,” Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint said. “He’s so competitive. He turns it up, he wants to win. That’s what he says when he comes into the huddle, ‘We’re winning this thing, we’re taking this thing.’ He gets that look in his eye, and he can shoot it.”
Toussaint had that look in his eye during the flurry of baskets to start the second half. He said his shots all felt good leaving his hand.
“He’s a great shooter, and he’s what really ignites us,” teammate Mason Sobiesk said.
Johnsburg advances to the regional final at 7 p.m. Friday at Marengo. The Skyhawks await the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between Richmond-Burton and Woodstock.
Marian coach Curtis Price noted that there’s not much a defense can do to deter a hot streak like Toussaint’s.
“He’s a very good shooter,” Price said. “We had D on him, and for some reason our D didn’t work on him tonight.”
Marian (10-20) and Johnsburg (18-12) had squared off once earlier in the season, with the Hurricanes taking home a one-point victory after A.J. Golembiewski made a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
This time, the Skyhawks found revenge.
“It feels great, especially after we lost on that last-second 3-pointer during the regular season against them,” Zach Toussaint said. “We came out and got the job done.”
Sobiesk scored 17 points, with 10 of them coming in the first half. Together, he and Toussaint helped Johnsburg jump out to an early lead. It ballooned to as many as 19 and was still a 17-point advantage entering the fourth quarter.
“We were pressing a little bit too much with our shots,” Price said. “We took a lot of off-balance shots in the second quarter. The second quarter put us in a hole.”
The Hurricanes fought their way back. Golembiewski scored 25 points, including four 3-pointers.
“We fought hard, we never gave up,” Price said. “A.J. played the game of his life. He put us on his shoulders once again. Mike Hucek came in and made some nice moves inside. Kevin [Herbst] started being bigger inside for us.”
Hucek and Herbst each scored eight points. Herbst led Marian with 12 rebounds, while Hucek had eight.
Jonny Preston guarded Toussaint in the fourth quarter and held him to one 3-pointer.
Marian cut Johnsburg’s lead to three with 40 seconds remaining, but Johnsburg made five of its last six free throws to seal the victory.
“With a 17-point lead going into the fourth quarter, I think we got complacent and played not to lose,” Mike Toussaint said. “That’s something we can learn from.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Zach Toussaint, Johnsburg, Jr., G
Toussaint scored Johnsburg’s first 13 points after halftime on 5-of-5 shooting in just over three minutes. He went on to finish with 30 points.
6: If Johnsburg were to go on and win the regional title on Friday, it would be the Skyhawks’ first in boys basketball in six years. Their last came in the 2012 postseason.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Marian athletic director Curtis Price stepped in to coach the Hurricanes this season after the boys basketball coaching position opened up unexpectedly just before the season. Price was happy for the chance and isn't sure yet whether he will remain the coach.
“This is a great group of guys,” Price said. “I’ve had such a joy coaching them. I’m so happy that I had an opportunity to coach this group.”
Johnsburg 63, Marian Central 58
Marian Central 13 9 14 22 — 58
Johnsburg 16 19 18 10 — 63
MARIAN CENTRAL (58): Herbst 3 2-3 8, Baranski 2 0-0 4, Radcliffe 0 1-4 1, Golembiewski 10 1-2 25, Menner 2 2-4 6, Limbaugh 0 2-2 2, Hucek 2 4-6 8, Preston 1 2-3 4, Kramer 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 14-24 58.
3-point goals: 4 (Golembiewski 4).
JOHNSBURG (63): Sobiesk 7 3-5 17, Smith 2 0-0 5, Toussaint 10 4-4 30, Groves 0 0-0 0, Frazier 3 0-3 6, Gutierrez 1 3-4 5, Paprocki 0 0-0 0, Muehlfelder 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 10-16 63.
3-point goals: 7 (Toussaint 6, Smith 1).