2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/4/2017 7:52 PM

St. Viator's buzzer-beating finish sinks St. Pat

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By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald report

Visiting St. Patrick had just taken a 60-59 lead against St. Viator's boys basketball team with :10 left in the game on Jalen Nelson's put-back basket.

The Lions called a timeout to set up their full-court play.

Sophomore guard J.R. Cison brought the ball up court and passed to fellow sophomore Jeremiah Hernandez just inside the 3-point arc. Alertly, Hernandez spotted Tom Majerus who'd drifted from the right corner to under the basket. Hernandez fed Majerus, who laid the ball in the basket as the buzzer sounded.

"It was a very unselfish play by Hernandez," said St. Viator coach Quin Hays. "Tom was in the right place and Jeremiah found him."

"In the timeout, I told Tom to set up in the corner and drift along the baseline toward the basket," said Hernandez. "I was aware of how much time was on the clock. There was no one around him and he made the play."

With the Lions' 61-60 win over the Shamrocks, the East Suburban Catholic Conference race became even more logjammed.

With Marist losing to Notre Dame on Friday, the Red Hawks and Lions are tied for first place in the league. Notre Dame and St. Patrick are 1 game back with 2 conference losses apiece.

St. Viator (8-13, 5-1) travels to Marist next Friday to see who will be alone atop the conference race. The Shamrocks travel to Marist the following Friday.

"We've been an up and down team this year," said St. Viator coach Quin Hayes. "We keep learning, and we've played a lot of big boys on our schedule."

The Shamrocks (18-5, 4-2), who have now lost three in a row, were without senior center Alton Thompson. He was sitting out due to being ejected for two technicals against Loyola last Saturday. St. Patrick had no one to clog up the middle, and the Lions took advantage of it.

"One of our keys to the game was to win the game down low on the boards," said Hays.

The Lions did that, by a 22-16 count.

And the Lions guards were able to begin to penetrating in the third quarter. Cison led the attack by scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second half.

"I made some mistakes handling the ball in the first quarter and didn't want to be taken out of the game," said Cison. "I just told myself to keep my composure. As the season has gone on I've become more comfortable that I can make plays happen."

Hernandez (14 points) did his part, crashing the boards in the third quarter picking up 6 of his 8 rebounds.

Cison hit two 3s to start the third quarter, tying the game at 31. Keishan Thomas' basket with 2:40 left in the third quarter gave the Shamrocks a 42-36 lead.

The Lions finished the quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 46-44 lead.

Cison connected for a 3 and then a 2-pointer off a turnover to tie the game at 44 with :55 left. Majerus (8 points) scored on a offensive rebound to give Viator a 46-44 lead with :24 left.

Two Majerus free throws gave the Lions a 52-46 lead with 4:53 left.

The Lions took the lead back after being tied at 53 on two baskets by Hernandez with 2:53 left.

Laurence Merritt (14 points) gave the Shamrocks the lead at 58-57 before Cison hit 2 free throws with :28 left.

"Our defense was a big factor," said Hays. "(Xavier) Pinson had 11 points in the first half. We changed some defense on him and he only scored 2 points in the second half."

"People wrote us off for this game, thinking we could not beat them," said Hernandez. "We played today with a little chip on our shoulder."

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