St. Viator's boys basketball team was merrily rolling along at Cahill Gym, leading 19-4 with 2:54 left in the first quarter against Joliet Catholic. At quarter's end the Lions led 22-10.
Then the second quarter started, and St. Viator hit a pothole.
The Hilltoppers closed to 24-20 with 5:01 left in the first half.
At that time, Lions coach Mike Howland had seen enough and called time out.
Assistant coach Jason Kuffel later spoke for Howland, who had to leave right after the game due to a family matter.
"We asked the kids to do the right things on the court," said Kuffel. "They had to get good possessions and get back to playing to their ability -- and they responded. That's what's good about this team. They respond to challenges."
Roosevelt Smart and Colton Kolowski (11 points, 7 rebounds) exchanged baskets before Smart (8 points) started an 11-2 run to end the quarter with the Lions ahead 37-24.
Lesson learned, as St. Viator rolled to a 80-54 win over JCA in the East Suburban Catholic. The win keeps them 1 game behind Marian Catholic for the top spot at 4-1 in conference and 17-4 overall.
Howard Davis, a talented sophomore guard, tried to keep the Hilltoppers (7-14, 0-4) in the game, scoring 9 of his team-high 18 points in the third quarter. The Lions' balanced trio of Ore Arogundade, Mark Falotico and Patrick McNamara combined to score 21 of the Lions' 26 points in the quarter to build a 63-39 lead after three quarters.
"We didn't take a step forward tonight," said McNamara, who finished with 16 points. "We got out to a fast start and then we let up on defense. This time of year you want to be playing better, aiming for the playoffs."
"We got complacent," said Argoundade, who led the Lions with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. "We can't have lapses when we get a lead like we did. Coach was upset with us. He said the way we were playing was unacceptable. But we responded to his message."
Falotico added 12 points as the Lions saw 13 players dent the scorebook.
Joliet Catholic coach Joe Gura, in his third season at JCA and 41st overall, knew it could be a tough night.
"We're a young team with four sophomores and a junior starting," said Gura. "We knew we were going against a very talented team. We had a nice run where we pulled to within 4 points a few times. But with sophomores on a varsity, you are going to have some good and bad stretches. I'm happy with the way our players played tonight."