With boys basketball teams in the home stretch of the regular season, it's time to start fine-tuning for the upcoming state playoffs.
For St. Viator, it doesn't look like there's a whole lot of adjusting left.
A key ingredient that is now back in place is senior Mark Falotico. After not playing while nursing a foot injury until early January, Falotico is now at full strength.
That gives the Lions more firepower. Notre Dame can attest to that, as the Lions rolled in Niles 80-58 in an East Suburban Catholic Conference matchup.
St. Viator improved to 18-5 and 6-1 with games against St. Patrick, Marist and Mt. Carmel remaining. The Dons slipped to 11-13 and 3-4.
"Tonight Mark was at full speed," said St. Viator coach Mike Howland. "Since the Marian Catholic game he's had to let the game come to him, and he hasn't pushed it. He has played well in the last four games. He's in good shape and now with him our there we have four good scorers around the perimeter and our big men (Sal Canella and Tom Martin) are playing well."
Ore Arogundade, who led the Lions with 21 points and 9 rebounds, put St. Viator ahead for good at 9-8 on a 3-point basket with 5:53 left in the game. Falotico helped continue a 16-2 run with a basket that saw the Lions jump out to a 22-10 lead with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
Falotico scored 9 of his 20 points in the second quarter that saw the lead expand to 41-21 and 46-26 at halftime.
The Lions cruised the rest of the way, with 12 different players scoring.
Notre Dame sophomore sensation Ammar Becar led the Dons with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Joe Mooney added 13 points.
"This was a big win for us," said Falotico. "We've had some tough losses to some real good teams. After a loss you want to get back out there and win. We think we are a force to be reckoned with.
"When I first came back to play it was tough to get back into a rhythm. Right now our defense is improving and we're taking steps forward."
Howland agreed with the improved defense.
"Tonight we had 2 or 3 guys going for loose balls on the floor," said Howland. "We had not been doing that much lately. I was pleased with the way our defense played tonight."
"They (St. Viator) took away a lot of what we wanted to do on offense," said Notre Dame coach Tom Les. "They get out and run, and they were getting up and down the floor really well in the first half. They got a lot of good looks at the basket."