"They started trapping us and we just lost our discipline," Thornton head coach Troy Jackson said. "We've played Hillcrest, and that's a team that likes to trap, but we've just got to get better at handling it."

Pat Miller scored a game-high 21 points followed by Aaric Armstead, who added 14.

"It was most definitely a statement win," Aaron Armstead said. "We showed that we can beat a really tough team."

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Marquette-bound Reggie Smith led the Wildcats with 18 points. His backcourt compliment, Jay Parker, added 13.

Hales, which won Big Dipper titles in 2002 and 2007, will play for a third championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Crete-Monee.

"Winning here was a goal for our guys at the beginning of the season," Hales coach Gary London said. "It's just something these kids can look forward to and have fun trying to win."