It took St. Viator a few minutes to get warmed up -- but once the Lions revved up their high-powered offense, Walther Christian did not stand much of a chance.
The Lions used a 17-0 spurt in the first half to take a commanding 30-13 lead en route to their 82-48 season-opening win in the first-round of the 37th Annual Joe Majkowski Thanksgiving Tournament.
The Broncos jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the opening minutes, then senior Ore Arogundade caught fire. The Lions guard sliced through the Broncos defense for a driving lay-up to put St. Viator on the board before capping off a 10-0 run with back-to-back 3s from the top of the key.
"There was definitely some first-game jitters in there," Arogundade said. "But once we calmed down and started to play our game how we do in practice, we were fine."
Not having junior guard Mark Falotico in the game may have contributed to the Lions' slow start. Falotico broke his foot in the last day of open gyms before the star of the season. According to head coach Mike Howland he will be sidelined through the Christmas break.
"It was unfortunate the injury happened to Mark," Howland said. "But this gives other guys an opportunity to step up and it will make us better in the long run."
The Lions forced Walther into 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes of play to help ignite the offense. By the end of the second, the Broncos had turned the ball over 18 times and found themselves in a 22-44 hole.
"I thought our defense really set the tone in the first half and that's how we want to look," Howland said. "We have some guys that can really be play-makers on the defensive end and I think when we turn people over we are going to be awfully tough to stop."
For the game St. Viator forced 26 turnovers.
Arogundade finished with a game-high 22 points and had 4 steals and a block as well.
"Our coaches preach all the time for us to play in the passing lanes," Arogundade said. "Our defense is our best offense. We got steals, got in transitions and got buckets so our defense was good."
With the loss of Falotico for the immediate future, one player that stepped up in his absence was newcomer Roosevelt Smart. The junior guard is a transfer from Palatine, and he scored 15 points in his first game in a Lions uniform. He was held scoreless for the first 13 minutes of the game, but once he found his comfort zone he was hard to stop.
"He is a heck of player," Howland said of Smart. "I thought he was one of the nervous players. A new jersey, new everything -- but he settled down and you can see he can really score in bunches."
Arogundade mentioned the dynamic duo complements each other well.
"He adds another dimension to our team," Arogundade said. "He's another threat. You have to pick your poison with us. You either guard me and get torched by Roose or you guard him and get torched by me. It's definitely a win-win for us."
R'Mandre Stockley and Antwan Morrison led the Broncos with 10 points apiece.
Patrick McNamara added eight points in the win, while Sal Canella added 8 points and a game-high 9 boards for the Lions.
St. Viator returns to action in the round-robin tourney on Wednesday night against Highland Park.
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