The names were not the familiar ones, but Antonio Thomas and Nathan Townen each found a way to shine in their own spectacular fashion.
Junior wing forward Thomas scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and reserve sophomore guard Townen brought necessary long-range shooting as No. 4 Bogan recovered from an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun Providence-St. Mel 63-56 in overtime in a Proviso West Holiday Tournament quarterfinal Saturday in Hillside.
Thomas scored seven points in overtime. He also recorded a stunning seven blocks, including a crucial denial of Knights guard Tevin King at the rim that completed the amazing comeback.
He converted a three-point play off an offensive rebound of a missed Luwane Pipkins jumper with 57 seconds left for a 57-56 advantage. On the Knights’ ensuing possession, Thomas recorded consecutive blocks and snared a rebound and was promptly fouled.
His two free throws with 22 seconds to play put the game out of reach. “I knew I had to come through for my team,” Thomas said. “It was crunch time and the team was looking for me.”
Townen was the Bengals’ other unsung hero. With Pipkins struggling to find his game and Bogan’s other two guards a combined 1-of-14 from the field, Townen entered the game in the fourth quarter, drilled consecutive three-pointers and scored 10 points as Bogan (12-1) outscored the Knights 18-2 in the final 3:57 of regulation.
“The coach put me in and that showed he had a lot of confidence in me, and I just wanted to bring some energy to the team,” Townen said.
After going 24 minutes between field goals, Pipkins (20 points, six steals, four assists) turned it on the fourth quarter. He scored 11 points in the final 6:01 of regulation. His twisting layup in traffic with 4.6 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime.
The ending marked a bitterly disappointing finish for the Knights (10-4), who were aiming for their second consecutive upset after beating Benet in second-round play. Behind the superb tandem of guards King (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Bernard Lilly Jr. (16 points), Providence-St. Mel used a 20-4 first-half run to lead by nine at the break.
As evidence of the Knights’ ferocious defensive effort, King made two incredible blocks of Bogan breakaways. Providence-St. Mel forced Bogan into 17 percent shooting (5-of-30) in the first half.
The game appeared out of reach after Lilly ended the third quarter with a jumper and a beautiful three-point play extended the Knights’ margin to 43-25 to start the fourth. Seven Providence-St. Mel turnovers combined with 4-of-10 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter allowed Bogan to storm back. Both King and Lilly experienced cramping late in the game. Josh McNeal added 12 points and Tyler Turner contributed eight points.
“We didn’t come out with the energy we needed at the beginning of the game,” Thomas said. “But our coach [Arthur Goodwin] told us to keep our heads up and just continue to play hard and that’s what we did.”