2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 3/8/2014 12:02 AM

Tall order? No big deal for St. Viator

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By Howard Schlossberg
Daily Herald Correspondent

The shorter team from the smaller school came up big.

St. Viator, playing with the energy, desire and fight that is personified in its coach, former Lion point guard Mike Howland, somehow survived being outsized by Zion-Benton and came away with a convincing 81-64 victory to win the Rolling Meadows Class 4A boys basketball regional on Friday night.

Next up? Last year's state runner-up, Jalen Brunson and Stevenson at the Lake Zurich sectional semifinals on Tuesday night.

But first, the Lions (23-5) will savor a win over a tall, talented team that features a college-size front line and Lake County's leading scorer, Milik Yarbrough.

No problem.

Howland dispatched 6-foot junior point guard Mark Falotico to guard the 6-6 senior sharpshooter.

He harried Yarbrough into a 7-for-20 shooting night, mostly from the perimeter, and 0-for-4 on 3-pointers.

While he was doing that, St. Viator junior forward Roosevelt Smart was carrying the team offensively, scoring 31 of his 33 points through three periods on simply ridiculous 10-of-14 shooting, which included 5 of 7 on 3-pointers.

His scoop layin enabled Viator to pull into a 34-34 halftime tie.

But his 13 points in the third period gave the Lions a 54-50 lead they would never surrender.

However, the key to his third-period success just might have been senior team leader Ore Arogundade's coming to life in the second half in every way.

Arogundade found his shooting touch, hitting 4 of 5 field goals and all 4 of his free throws en route to 17 points.

"He's a closer," Howland said. "He took no credit. I told (Roosevelt), 'Keep doing it.' I told him, 'You're the reason we won this game.' "

Well, one of the reasons.

Tom Martin and his lean 6-6 frame battled Yarbrough, 6-5 Admiral Schofield (24 points) and 6-9 Chris Moragne around the basket all night.

And even though the Lions were outrebounded 27-16, they out-boarded the Zee-Bees 11-10 in the second half.

And then there was Bobby Grant.

The 6-2 senior, picking up on Falotico's play, drew a charge, stood up to the taller Zee-Bees and wound up right where he was supposed to: as the recipient of press-breaker passes for easy layups in the fourth quarter.

That's when the Lions pulled away from a Zion-Benton team forced to gamble on defense and take long-range bombs on offense rather than leverage their height advantage.

It didn't go unnoticed by Howland.

"I thought his steal on Milik was huge," said the coach, who won a school-record third straight regional. "He rose to the challenge."

"It's never been done in Viator history (three straight regional titles," Arogundade excitedly kept repeating. "How'd we do it? With defense. We knew we couldn't let (Yarbrough) have a big game. That was the key to the game."

And Falotico gets the credit for most of that.

"Mark's an unbelievable defender," Howland said of his junior point guard.

Now it's time to get ready for Stevenson.

"We have to play a better game than we did tonight (to beat the sectional top-seed Stevenson)," Arogundade said. "We have to rebound better."

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