MARENGO – With Johnsburg point guard Zach Toussaint commanding all the defensive pressure up top, Skyhawks forward Brody Frazier quietly slipped into the open spots of the Richmond-Burton zone defense Friday.
Frazier shot 9 of 11 from the field, consistently finding his way into the paint in a 64-52 Johnsburg win over R-B in the Class 3A Marengo Regional championship game.
The victory gave the Skyhawks their first regional title since 2012.
“My teammates were setting me up with great passes,” Frazier said. “They led me right into the holes.”
The Skyhawks (19-12) advance to face fellow Kishwaukee River Conference member Burlington Central in the Class 3A Woodstock North Sectional semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“Zach draws a lot of attention,” Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint said. “[Frazier] finished. If he finishes, good things happen for us.”
Toussaint wound up leading Johnsburg with 19 points, including two 3-pointers. But it was Frazier inside who helped turn the game in the Skyhawks’ favor early on. Frazier scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half.
“Toussaint forces you to extend because he can shoot from so far out,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “That opens up the lane. We knew that would be a problem, but everybody that plays them knows that’s going to be a problem.”
R-B (18-13) watched its season come to a close with a regional title game loss for the second year in a row. Luke Uhwat scored 13 points for the Rockets, while Mark Marzahl scored 11 and Jeff Jankowski added 10.
Creason was proud of how far his team had come over the past year.
“I didn’t expect this team to win
18 games,” Creason said. “I don’t think anybody did.”
Frazier and the Skyhawks pushed the lead to double digits in the second quarter. Johnsburg senior forward Mason Sobiesk scored three quick buckets to start the third quarter and extend the lead to 18.
Sobiesk finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Johnsburg kept finding ways into the paint, and it led to a 57 percent shooting night as a team.
“It was just building up from the moment that the regular season started,” Sobiesk said. “It was our goal to get here. To win it was one of the best feelings of my life. As a team, it was a culmination of all the hard work we put in.”
Junior forward Jacob Gutierrez added a wild buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter to stop what had been a 9-2 R-B run. Gutierrez caught a deflected pass at half court and threw it up toward the rim as the buzzer sounded. The shot swished through, nothing but net.
Defensively, Johnsburg played a 2-3 zone most of the night. The two teams had split their regular season matchups, and Mike Toussaint liked how the zone worked in the Skyhawks’ regular-season victory over the Rockets.
Zach Toussaint, who wore the net around his neck after the game, thought the defensive effort made the difference.
“Second half of the season, we’ve been really saying the word grit,” he said. “We’ve just got to show grit every single night and really dig down and get defensive stops. Defensive stops is what won us the game tonight.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Johnsburg, sr., F
Frazier, who entered the night averaging 8.8 points a game, kept finding openings in the paint and scored 18 for the Skyhawks.
6: The regional title is Johnsburg’s first in six years. The Skyhawks won a regional in 2012, coach Mike Toussaint’s first year in charge of the Johnsburg boys program.
AND ANOTHER THING …
The two teams had split their two regular-season matchups. With a regional title on the line in a rivalry game, it made for a nice atmosphere.
“It’s always a big game against them, always a fun game,” Johnsburg’s Zach Toussaint said.
Johnsburg 64, Richmond-Burton 52
Richmond-Burton 11 11 9 15 — 52
Johnsburg 16 15 14 19 — 64
RICHMOND-BURTON (52): Townsend 2 0-2 5, Marzahl 4 1-3 11, Jankowski 4 1-2 10, Uhwat 4 5-6 13, Byrne 3 1-2 7, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Bailey 1 0-0 3, Bassett 1 0-0 3. Totals: 19 8-15 52.
3-point goals: 6 (Marzahl 2, Townsend 1, Jankowski 1, Bailey 1, Bassett 1).
JOHNSBURG (64): Sobiesk 6 1-2 13, Smith 1 2-4 4, Toussaint 6 5-5 19, Groves 1 1-3 3, Frazier 9 0-0 18, Paprocki 1 0-0 2, Gutierrez 2 0-0 5. Totals: 26 9-14 64.
3-point goals: 3 (Toussaint 2, Gutierrez 1).