St. Viator's boys basketball team expected to have its hands full with a road trip to St. Patrick.
"St. Pat's is a tough place to play," said St. Viator coach Mike Howland. "We had lost there 10 straight times. I told the players, 'We're going in there with a 0-0 record and I want to come out 1-0.'"
The Lions heard Howland's message and gave their first-year coach a 64-54 win Friday night in Chicago.
"We had to learn to play on the road and win in a hostile environment. It will help us down the road," said St. Viator sophomore Ore Arogundade. "We had to play with intensity and not lose our cool. We're an unselfish team and tonight we got some good balanced scoring and the bench played well."
Arogundade led the Lions with 20 points and 3 blocked shots and Kevin Walsh scored 19 points and hit three 3-pointers.
Arogundade broke a 7-7 tie with 3:56 left in the first quarter with a basket and the Lions never trailed again in the East Suburban Catholic Conference matchup. A 3-pointer just before the end of the quarter gave the unbeaten Lions (6-0, 1-0) a 15-7 lead.
After the halftime break which saw St. Viator up 25-15, the Shamrocks (3-2, 0-1) pulled to within 30-22.
The Lions used a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 39-22 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
"Once we were up 17 points, we turned it over a few times and that's when they made a comeback," said Howland . "Our defense, which was great up to that point, kind of went out the window. St. Pat was playing in the comeback like they had nothing to lose."
Royale Ewing (13 points) and Izzy Seferagic (16) led the comeback that saw the Shamrocks pull within 3 points on three occasions in the final quarter, the last at 46-43 with 5:06 left. A 3-pointer by Seferagic made the score 59-54 with 52 seconds left.
Three free throws by the Lions and a final basket by Arogundade finished the scoring.
"Ore plays with a lot of eneregy and he does so many things -- he scores, rebounds, blocks shots, plays defense," said Howland. "You look at him and you don't think he's a sophomore. He's a weapon."
Danny Forde scored 13 for the Lions and Chris Myjak, who battled foul trouble much of the night, pulled down 10 rebounds. Elijah Watson had 13 for the Shamrocks.