St. Francis seems to like playing at Glenbard South.
The Spartans returned Saturday night to the scene of last year's Class 3A sectional and earned a 45-36 nonconference victory against the Raiders.
"It brought back a lot of memories," Spartans senior Jason Pisarski said. "It was a good run last year. It was really fun to play here. We had a lot of energy to come out."
The last time St. Francis played there was March 9, when the Spartans nearly upset Marshall in the sectional final, falling 45-41 to end a thrilling playoff run.
The Spartans (11-2) expected a "grinder" of a game in coach Bob Ward's words, and they got one. While the Spartans were playing their first game in two weeks, the Raiders were in their third in five days.
The Spartans led 17-15 at halftime but began to pull away in the third quarter thanks to some fine shooting from senior guard Andrew Kimball. Kimball scored 11 of his 13 points in the third, hitting three 3-pointers to give the Spartans an 8-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
"We just kept telling the kids to shoot the ball," Ward said. "Shooters shoot."
The Spartans' lead seemed to be in jeopardy when the Raiders came within 4 early in the fourth, but the final period was senior forward Kevin McShea's turn to shine. McShea scored 7 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, giving the Spartans their first double-digit lead with 1:56 to play when he converted a lay-in off a behind-the-back pass from Pisarski.
"It was a great pass by Jason," McShea said, preferring to give his teammates credit for his point total. "He hit me when I was wide open, and luckily I didn't miss the wide-open layup."
"I just kind of improvised," Pisarski said. "It just came to me. I don't really know how I did it."
It was not only a flashy play but a key basket.
Junior guard Chaun Rickette led the Raiders (4-11) with 15 points.
"I was proud of the way our kids played," Raiders coach Wade Hardtke said. "You know Coach Ward is going to have his guys ready to go. We talked about the physicalness and just how hard they were going to play, and I was proud of the way that we came out and we matched that."
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