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Athleticism. Depth. And the two of the best shooters around.
All that and more makes St. Viator the dynamo it is this season, and the Lions (12-1) continued their winning ways Friday night in an impressive 65-50 semifinal win over Prospect at the Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic.
The Knights (8-5) are the only team to be St. Viator this year, back on Nov. 29 at the Lions' Thanksgiving Tournament.
St. Viator meets Fremd for the tournament title tonight at 8:45 p.m. Saturday, while Prospect meets Naperville Central for third place at 7:15 p.m.
And while they remembered this season early history, it didn't blur the Lions' focus. They came out and played their game. Their up-tempo, in-your-face devastating game.
After allowing Prospect to run out to an early lead, the Lions regrouped and let scoring aces Ore Arogundade (23 points) and Roosevelt Smart (21) do their thing.
When they weren't knocking down opportunity jumpers in transition, they were taking turns, especially Arogundade, sharing the ball with 6-foot-6 running mate Tom Martin (10 points). St. Viator used a 7-point run in the second quarter to wipe out Prospect's only sustained lead. And after a Smart free throw following a steal, Arogundade neatly fed Martin coming out of a scramble for a loose ball and then closed the half with buzzer-beating hoop for a 32-24 lead after limiting Prospect to just 6 second-quarter points.
Smart's 12-point third quarter extended the lead to double-digits and kept it there. But it was the ability to limit Prospect defensively that impressed St. Viator coach Mike Howland.
"We're just playing better as a team on defense," he said. "We're still working on putting 32 minutes together."
Howland liked how Smart gladly took on the challenge of guarding Prospect's hot hand, Bobby Frasco. Of his 17 points, 10 came in the first quarter. And when Frasco went to the bench you could see Prospect's offense get out of synch.
Then, when Frasco came back, the athletic, intelligent Smart was waiting for him.
While Viator was shooting well (26-for-45) and outrebounding the Knights (23-16), Prospect knew it had missed a good chance. The Knights missed several bunnies while Viator was making the two first-half runs that essentially opened up the game for good.
Kyle Beyak (10 points) tried to pick up the scoring slack while Frasco sat with foul trouble, and the Knights just didn't have enough firepower to stay with the Lions.
"That's a very athletic team," said Prospect coach John Camardella, who said he felt the score was somewhat deceptive. "I was extremely proud of my kids. They (St. Viator) hit a couple more shots."
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