You won't see too many boys basketball teams have as good a weekend as St. Viator just wrapped up.
One night after winning at conference rival Marist, St. Viator notched an equally impressive road win in beating a tough Loyola squad 57-53 in the CCL/ESCC Challenge.
"It's huge because we are just starting to figure out how good we can be," said St. Viator coach Mike Howland. "I thought we had gutsy efforts and we grinded out wins. That's really what playing on the road is all about."
"It opens the eyes of everyone not only in our conference, but our area, too," said Ore Arogundade, who led the Lions with 18 points. "We can not only win at home but on the road. We are a dangerous team."
As Loyola (6-3) took its biggest lead of the game at 30-26 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
Then St. Viator (7-1) received a spark from an unlikely source in sophomore Patrick McNamara.
After not even attempting a shot in the first half, McNamara made his presence felt. First, he drained a 3-pointer at the 3:51 mark and then scored on back-to-back drives to the hole to tie the game at 33-33.
"Coach said to look to be more aggressive," McNamara said. "I was playing a little tentative the last couple games, and I just let it go."
And he wasn't done. The 6-foot-3 forward's 3-pointer with 6:49 left gave the Lions a 43-39 advantage and for the last of his 12 points, he drove to put Viator up 52-44 with 4:17 remaining, equaling the team's biggest lead of the game.
"He plays like this in practice and I think for him, it was getting over the mental block of being on the big stage and having confidence in what he can do," Howland said.
McNamara had plenty of help with fellow sophomore Mark Falotico (12 points) dazzling the crowd with 9 second-quarter points and Kevin Hammarlund dishing out 4 second-half assists and holding Loyola junior Jack Morrissey to 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
After James Clarke (game-high 19 points) hit his fourth 3-pointer with 6:30 left to cut the lead to 1, Viator's defense clamped down and Hammarlund, Arogundade and Hugh Masterson scored on successive trips to pull away.
"They were running a lot of double screens for their shooters," McNamara said. "We did a good job getting out on them and getting stops down the stretch."
Arogundade, who made 3-of-4 from the foul line to ice the game, also hauled in 10 rebounds, part of a 31-16 edge on the boards for the Lions.
"We had two good road tests," Arogundade said. "We came out with good intensity to start the game, and we finished the game really well."