In big games, big players show their mettle.
On Friday night at St. Viator's Cahill Gymnasium, the Lions' D.J. Morris and Chris Myjak came up with correspondingly big efforts.
Morris scored 18 points, including 5 points in overtime, while Myjak netted 11 points and hauled down 15 rebounds in St. Viator's 54-51 overtime win against St. Patrick.
The Lions improved to 5-0 and 1-0 in the East Suburban Catholic. The Shamrocks dropped their third in a row and fell to 2-3 and 0-2.
"St. Pat's came out ready for us," said Lions coach Joe Majkowski. "Both teams had big plays. It was a typical ESCC battle."
"Coach told us that we had to be ready to play," said Morris. "He told us that they would be physical and we had to be physical right back. We really had to push it to the limit tonight. We weren't ready for them at first, but we fought back."
The Shamrocks led 16-11 after the first quarter and built a 22-11 lead with 6:49 left in the half following a 3-pointer from Kortney Darby (9 points, 6 rebounds).
Brian Wilhite came off the bench for the Lions and helped ignite a run with a layup after recovering a loose ball, plus a 3-pointer. That made the score 24-22 in favor of St. Pat. Frank Laterza then stole the ball to tie the score at 24-24.
"Wilhite and Laterza really came up with some big plays," said Majkowski. "They got us back in the game."
Myjak, who had only 2 rebounds in the first half, became a force on the boards in the second half.
"They were hurting us on the boards in the first half," said Myjak. "They were outrebounding us, and we had to get tougher. Coach got on us at halftime about that. D.J. has really picked it up, being the point guard. We feel confident in what he can do. "
St. Viator opened a 34-29 lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter before the Shamrocks closed the gap at the end of the quarter to 36-34.
Morris helped the Lions open a 6-point lead at 42-36 with a 3-pointer and a jumper in the lane with 5:22 left.
St. Patrick's Guy DiBalsamo nailed a 3-pointer with :34 left to tie the game at 45-45. The Shamrocks had a chance to win, but a shot in the lane was missed by Jacob Williams.
The Lions controlled the early part of the overtime as Myjak scored from underneath. Morris follwed with 2 free throws and a layup for a 51-45 lead.
With St. Viator leading 53-47 with :48 left, Williams (16 points, 5 rebounds) scored twice within nine seconds on baskets after Lions turnovers. The second basket with :25 left put the score at 53-51.
Another Shamrocks steal was followed by a turnover to give the ball back to the Lions with :13 left.
Morris was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws.
Mahlike Graham's 3-point attempt fell short and Myjak grabbed the rebound as time expired.
"St. Pats had some some big athletes and they collapsed on Myjak," said Majkowski. "They gave him a rough time, but he'll be better for it. DJ had been sick during the week and he gutted it out. He really came up with some good opportunities in the second half."