The bragging rights in Arlington Heights went to St. Viator after the Lions delivered an 88-54 win over Hersey at Cahill Gymnasium on Wednesday night in nonconference action.
Ore Arogundade led the 16-3 Lions with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocked shots. Roosevelt Smart added 13, Patrick McNamara had 12 and Sal Canella had 11 points and 6 rebounds.
It was Canella's play in the second quarter that got the Lions roaring against the 7-10 Huskies. His strong rebounding and 7 points in the quarter helped St. Viator break away from Hersey.
"I worked hard to improve my defense and rebounding," said Canella, "and to run the floor better. Coach said good defense will lead to offense."
Hersey trailed 20-14 after one quarter. The Lions then went on a 16-7 run to start the second quarter, which featured a 9-0 spurts as St.Viator grabbed a 36-21 lead.
A 3-point play by the 6-foot-5 junior center finished the drive. The Lions finished the quarter with a 13-7 run to lead 49-28 and the Huskies weren't able to threaten in the second half.
"It was just a lot of hard work over the summer," said Canella, who has started the last six games. "When I played on the varsity as a sophomore I was a little nervous. But as I played with these players over the summer and fall, I began to feel more comfortable. I've learned to just go with the flow of the game."
"I can't remember the game," said St. Viator coach Mike Howland, "but it was before Christmas. He ran the floor very well, played good defense and got a few baskets. He caught my eye during practices around the holidays and then at the start of the month. I like the combination of Sal and Tom Martin. We can use both players and not lose anything, and they can both get a rest."
Arogundade, who played with Canella last season, saw improvement over the summer and as the season has gone on.
"I am really proud of the way he has improved," said Arogundade. "He plays big for us. In my mind he's 6-5 but plays like 6-8. He had a lot of youngness last year. He's worked hard to get to where he is now."
Hersey was paced by Max Heeren with 13 points and Payton Haas with 10. Alex Mueller added 9.
"With the extra opportunities they got from our turnovers in the first half they were able to convert them to points," said Hersey coach Steve Messer. "They got the loose balls and rebounded (edging the Huskies 33-20). They played well with the lead."
In the key second quarter Hersey shot 3-for-14 and finished 9-for-27 from the field in the first half.
St. Viator, on the other hand, shot 66 percent on 18-for-27, including 11-for-14 in the second quarter.