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After last summer, St. Viator's Patrick Martin seriously considered giving up playing basketball his senior year to concentrate on baseball.
But after some long thought and soul-searching, Martin decided he wanted to play hoops in his final year.
On Friday, in his final home game and on senior night, Martin showed that his decision was sound, nailing three huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help lift the Lions past Mt. Carmel 71-62.
"It felt really good, especially since this was my last night here," said Martin, who was 4-for-5 beyond the arc and finished with 15 points.
"I didn't really want to play. I went to summer camp, but I just wasn't feeling it. But I got the hang of basketball and decided to some back my senior year. I am glad I did. It will give me a lot of memories when I move on."
Lions coach Mike Howland was happy that Martin stuck around for his senior year.
"It is great to have him out there," Howland said. "He is instant offense. When he gets looks from the three-point line they are going to go down."
Starting five seniors, Howland's crew got off to a great start. The Lions (18-8) played inspired defense, forcing 5 turnovers as Mt. Carmel missed its first 8 shots as St. Viator ran out to a 9-0 advantage.
"All of us seniors were ready to play," said Kevin Hammarlund, who scored 5 of his 16 points during that run. "It was our last game in this gym and we were ready to go."
The Lions led 23-8 with 5:21 left in the first half when Mt. Carmel (10-15) finally found its offense. Led by Christian Searles (17 points), the Caravan went on a 15-3 run to close out the half trailing 26-23.
"We don't get off to too good of starts usually," Howland said. "And I thought our seniors did a great job of that.
But then we let them back in the game. It is the story of who we are. When we play together and keep our energy high on the defensive end we are pretty good. When we don't play together we are an average ballclub."
Searles then scored the first five points to start the second half as the Caravan forged ahead 28-26. That's when St. Viator junior sensation Ore Arogundade began to find his offensive mark. Arogundade, who had just three points in the first half, hit a key turnaround jumper to get his scoring juices flowing.
"I am not used to coming off the bench," said Arogundade, who finished with 17 points. "But it was important that our seniors got to start. I knew I could get things going and when I hit that shot, I was back in it."
St. Viator led 46-44 with 6:40 to play when Martin went to work.
He spotted up in the left corner and buried a 3-pointer to help start a short 6-3 spurt. Then, with the Lions' leading 54-51 with 4:03 to play, Martin nailed another triple, this from the opposite corner to ignite a 10-3 run to put the Lions up 64-54 with 1:10 to play.
"I got my adrenaline pumping in the fourth," Martin said. "They went to a zone and I hit a couple more."
Howland, whose team opens up in the state class 4A regionals at Warren next Tuesday against the winner of Highland Park-Rolling Meadows was pleased with his team's tune up.
"I wanted to have good one (Friday night) to get the ball rolling a little bit," Howland said. "I wasn't trying to run too many plays tonight because of all the scouts in the gym tonight. But we will get back focused on the playoffs (today)."
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