DOWNERS GROVE – Owen Thulin is accustomed to his place in the background.
The Downers Grove North junior guard hails from a large family of athletic siblings, with three brothers and a sister. Finding his own spot in his highly successful family is not an easy task.
One of his older brothers, senior guard Ethan Thulin, is committed to play football for Dayton. Owen Thulin showed he also belongs among the best in the area on the football field after racking up 44 tackles, two interceptions, seven pass break-ups and a fumble recovery this season.
The 5-foot-11 Thulin is starting to make his mark in basketball, too.
“I’m kind in the middle in my family,” Owen Thulin said. “I’ve learned a lot from both of my older brothers, and my younger brother, mostly about athletics. It helps me a lot in competitions and getting each other better.”
On Wednesday, Owen Thulin drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the opening minutes, including the first points of the game, to finish with six points to spark the fourth-seeded Trojans to a resounding 71-41 win over 13th-seed Downers Grove South in a Downers Grove North Regional semifinal.
The Trojans (27-3), who have lost three games by a combined nine points this season, canned 14 3-pointers to move ahead to play the winner of the Proviso East-Morton semifinal Friday at 7 p.m.
Junior sharpshooter Jack Stanton had a prolific shooting night, drilling seven 3-pointers to end with a game-high 23 points. Stanton thrilled the mostly pro-Trojans crowd with his deadeye shooting, spoiling any chance for the Mustangs to build any momentum to mount a comeback.
Maxwell Haack knocked down threes 3s for 16 points, and Jacob Bozeman added nine points.
“It’s fun, especially having regionals out here,” Stanton said. “Last year we had to travel far, so coming out here and getting revenge was good. I expected us to shoot well. We shoot a lot of 3s and work on our conditioning.”
With 6-8 junior center Jake Riemer sidelined for the rest of the season with a left foot injury, the Trojans avoided an upset to their neighborhood rivals by hitting their 3-pointers. In the first half, Owen Thulin made a pair of 3s, and Stanton added three 3s, including a top-of-the-key trey at the second-quarter buzzer.
Owen Thulin’s shooting ignited the parade of 3s, but his penetration also factored in the blowout. He repeatedly attacked the Mustangs’ defense, hitting George Wolkow with a bounce pass that led to a reverse layup that padded the lead to 31-12.
“I’m starting to feel really good, and we have a lot of guys back from last season,” Thulin said. “I’ve been playing with these guys my whole life and we have good chemistry.”
Downers Grove North coach James Thomas said Thulin fits the mold of his hard-working, team-first philosophy.
“Owen comes from a super competitive community family,” Thomas said. “They’ve all been super involved in all of our programs. Owen and the combination of Ethan have that battery pack that never runs out and keeps coming at you.”
Thomas said his players showed tremendous grit opening up the playoffs with a blowout win, despite Riemer on the sidelines.
“Jake told the guys to move on and we’ll try and do it for him,” Thomas said. “We shot really well tonight. Our kids made the extra pass and gave what the game was giving us.”
Downers Grove South coach Zach Miller said he was proud of how his team responded to adversity all season, including in Wednesday’s defeat.
The Trojans led 33-12 early in the second quarter, but the Mustangs fought back to cut to the deficit to 36-22 late in the half. Downers Grove North sliced the margin to 42-30 in the opening minutes of the third before Haack and Stanton drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to turn the tide back in favor of the Trojans.
Junior forward Justin Sveiteris scored 11 points to lead the Trojans.
“They executed better in the second quarter,” Miller said. “We’re a young team, so it took a little bit to get our sea legs under us and match North’s intensity. They went on one of their runs in the third quarter. That’s what they do. I’m proud of our fight and the heart of our team. It was a learning experience. We’re bringing almost every back, with all of starters coming back.”