In the midst of adversity, St. Viator coach Mike Howland thought his team, himself included, panicked at certain points of Wednesday's overtime win over Highland Park.
The host Lions had plenty of reason to panic on Friday night at the Joe Majkowski Varsity Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament, missing their first 14 shots from the field and falling behind Prospect 19-5.
But St. Viator kept its cool, crawled even by halftime and pulled away for a 63-54 victory to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
Junior guards Tommy Flahaven and Bobby Frasco (16 points) controlled the game for the Knights early and helped Mike Houghton score 6 of his 16 points in the opening period to build a 15-3 lead.
Frasco's 2 free throws gave Prospect (2-2) at 19-5 advantage with 5:47 left in the first half before Sal Cannella's elbow jumper with 5:28 left marked the first made field goal of the game for Viator.
"We talked about staying calm at the end of the first quarter and just clawing our way back, little by little," Howland said.
And claw the Lions did, using their speed advantage to create turnovers and easier shots.
Mark Falotico (team-high 17 points) and Mayo Arogundade had steals and layups that were part of a 14-0 run that spanned nearly five minutes.
"We focused on our defense and didn't worry about making shots," Falotico said. "We tried to get out on the break and get some layups."
While Prospect shot 60 percent (9 of 15) in the first half, committing 15 of its 22 turnovers was a reason for concern.
"You're never going to completely eliminate those but when they're at that level, it's hard to get wins," said Prospect coach John Camardella.
"This group has a great attitude. They understand that it's a process."
Leading 43-41, Falotico began to assert himself.
The sophomore point guard drove to the hole for a layup to beat the third quarter buzzer. Then he opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to bump the lead up to 10.
"I think he grew up tonight," Howland said of Falotico. "He made a big step tonight because we know he can take over games whenever he wants to."
Arogundade and Kevin Hammarlund were making their season debuts after recovering from the football season, and both played key roles off the bench.
Hammarlund had knee surgery just a week and a half ago, but didn't show it. The senior chipped in 12 points and along with Arogundade, gave St. Viator some much needed energy on the defensive end in the second quarter.
Ore Arogundade added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals for a Lions squad that shot 40 percent (20 of 50) despite the slow start.
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