Marmion students stormed the court as if their Cadets had knocked off an unbeaten champion and Aurora Central players who got knocked around a little during the mad rush didn't take kindly to it.
But that's how emotional things were Friday night at Marmion after a hectic postgame scene only slightly tainted the delicious 37 minutes of basketball that preceded it with the host Cadets outlasting their crosstown rivals 64-62 in a Suburban Christian Blue overtime thriller.
Marmion's Ryan Glasgow tallied a game-high 21 points with an array of power moves inside as the 6-4, 270-pound center took advantage of Aurora Central stalwart Robert DeMyers either sitting on the bench or playing cautiously with foul trouble all night.
Guard Jeff Garofalo played the unlikely hero role for Marmion, scoring 5 of his 8 points in the game during the overtime. Garofalo notched a rare four-point play with two minutes left in overtime by getting fouled while hitting a 3-pointer and then sinking the free throw for a 61-58 lead. He tossed in one of two free throws with 6.3 seconds left for the 64-62 lead, setting the stage for the wild postgame scene when Charger guard Joe Medgyesi's buzzer shot came up short.
"When buckets are hard to come by, and someone throws in a four-point play for you, it seems like more than four points," Marmion coach Ryan Paradise said of Garofalo's big play that provided the Cadets some rare breathing room.
It all capped off what was essentially an uphill climb for Marmion much of the night. Aurora Central got off to a sizzling start in building a 19-5 first-quarter lead, but DeMyers picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and his backup, Mike O'Donnell, picked up his second midway through the period.
When Aurora Central (7-12, 2-4) held on for a 30-26 halftime lead, it was time for Glasgow to go to work inside as the second half opened in an attempt to put DeMyers on the bench again.
Glasgow poured in 14 points in the third quarter alone, lifting Marmion (11-9, 4-3) to its first lead of the night at 44-43 with a three-point play with 1:23 left in the quarter.
"At the beginning of the game, I was looking for the kickout passes and they weren't really there, so I decided to put it on the floor and try to make some plays," Glasgow said. "Once my shots started falling, everyone else was getting open, so it helped everyone in general to get the ball in the paint."
Aurora Central regained the lead at 54-48 in the fourth quarter when Joe McEachern (team-high 20 points and 8 rebounds) and Paul Kaminski each knocked down 3-pointers.
"We needed to make the plays when we were up by six points in the fourth quarter," McEachern said. "If we could have picked up on that lead and made it more, the game would not have gone into overtime."
But Marmion's defense tightened and the Cadets quickly tied the score on baskets by Glasgow, Pete Stefanski (13 points) and Colin Kavanaugh (10 points).
Neither team could score in the final two minutes of regulation, with an odd sequence of the ball being thrown out of bounds on inbounds plays by both teams with 1.9 seconds left before settling for the overtime.
After DeMyers (12 points, 5 rebounds) opened the overtime with a short jumper for a 56-54 lead, Stefanski banged down a 3-pointer to regain the lead. McEachern powered inside for a layup, but Garofalo answered with his four-point backbreaker, allowing Marmion to survive the final tense moments when Aurora Central tried to pull out the game.
"We were giving up a lot of easy shots at the start of the game," Paradise said. "The things we focused on all week in practice, we were not doing in the first quarter, but we were contesting a lot more shots in the second, third and fourth quarters, and our defense ultimately won this game."
Marmion enjoyed a slight 32-29 rebounding edge, with guard Alex Theisen pulling down a team-high 8 rebounds for the Cadets. Marmion also enjoyed a 14-6 edge at the free-throw line.
For Aurora Central coach Nathan Drye, the game and postgame melee were bitter pills to swallow, especially when his best player could never get into the flow.
"We were in the process of putting the game where we wanted to put it (with the early lead), but I hate to see a kid taken out of the game like that (with foul calls)," a disappointed Drye said.
"It is such a big game, and when he (DeMyers) has worked so hard to get back from his leg injury, and then for him to be taken out of the game like that, it was unfortunate and it's just a shame."
As for a couple of his players getting run over in the mob scene, Drye had some advice for his team.
"A couple of our guys got hit in the on-rush of students and knocked to the floor, which I think is inexcusable," Drye said. "But I told our guys that it's on us. If we win the game, they don't storm the court. They stormed the court and shoved our guys down, and if we don't want that to happen, we have to beat them."