It would have been easy for Prospect to throw in the towel.
After all, the Knights had fallen on a last-second shot to Highland Park on Tuesday, and now they had just relinquished a 5-point lead to state-ranked St. Viator.
And Prospect's top player, Bobby Frasco, had just picked up his fourth foul.
But even when St. Viator opened up a 6-point lead with 2:36 left in the third quarter, Prospect found a way to dig in.
"We knew we had to come together," said junior guard Kyle Beyak. "Our offense revolves around Bobby. Someone had to step up. So we found a way."
Prospect didn't allow St. Viator to pull away, and when Frasco did return after early a five-minute absence, the Knights were able to pull out a 61-58 victory Friday before a near-capacity crowd at the Joe Majkowski Invitational at St. Viator.
"I am so happy for our guys," Prospect coach John Camardella said. "After that disappointing loss on Tuesday, we came out and dealt with more stuff. But when Bob went to the bench our team kept us in it. And that is the best thing for us."
Despite just being in the first week of the season, the game had a playoff-like atmosphere with both student sections in midseason form.
And the teams picked up on that energy, exchanging lead changes throughout the first half. St. Viator then put together an 8-2 run to build a 34-27 lead on a basket by Roosevelt Smart (8 points) with 3:01 left in the half.
Sparked by Beyak, the Knights ran off 10 unanswered points and led 37-36 at the half.
St. Viator (2-1) switched to a trapping zone defense to start the second half. The strategy worked, not only forcing 6 turnovers but sending Frasco to the bench with 4:08 left in the third quarter with the score tied at 42.
"We had never seen that defense before," Camardella said. "And it took some time for us to adjust to it."
While Prospect was looking to adjust, Ore Arogundade began to take over for the Lions. The Drake recruit scored the first 12 points for St. Viator in the third quarter as the Lions led 48-42.
"I was just trying to do what I could to help my team," said Arogundade, who finished with 25 points. "We just weren't able to make plays down the stretch."
St. Viator led 52-47 when Frasco returned to the lineup with 7:51 left to play.
" I was worried when I went out," said Frasco, who had 23 points. "But our guys did a great job of staying in the game. It was awesome."
With a new lease on life, Prospect began to regain control. The Knights forced the Lions into tough shots while running off a 12-2 spurt, with Frasco accounting for 6 of those points as Prospect appeared to be in control with a 59-54 lead with 46.3 seconds to play.
Arogundade hit a pair of free throws and Patrick McNamara then stole the inbound pass and put in a reverse layup to cut the margin to 59-58 with 26.7 second to play.
Beyak then calmly converted a pair of free throws with 20.1 seconds left to play, and Arogundade missed a 3-pointer to close out the game.
"That is what I practice all those hours for," Beyak said. "I love being in that opportunity."
Prospect did a great job from the free throw line, converting 18-of-21 free throws. That helped offset the 44-23 rebounding edge St. Viator earned.
Danny Thomas chipped in 13 points for the Knights while Tom Martin came off the bench for St. Viator to score 12 points and grab 13 rebounds.
"Basketball games are ugly in stretches and we worked through it," Camardella said. "It is that type of win that will help us."
St.Viator coach Mike Howland, whose team came into the season highly regarded in the state, is still looking for that signature win.
"We are not playing together right now," Howland said. "These guys have not bought in yet and they don't trust each other yet. But I know we will change that."
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