On Tuesday afternoon IC Catholic Prep senior Alex Meurer and fellow senior teammate Kevin Cheng swung by the Elmhurst YMCA for a shootaround ahead of the Knights' game that evening against Lisle.
Meurer was a perfect 6 for 6 from the field, including five 3-point baskets, to lift the Knights to a 56-43 victory over the pesky Lions in a nonconference affair. ICCP improved to 4-1.
The key to shooting effectively, according to Meurer?
"It's just practicing every day," he said. "Today, me and Kevin after school went to the Y to shoot, and the more shots you put up, the better you feel. I shot fairly well (at the Y), but I shot better tonight."
And how. It seemed like Meurer continually put himself in the position of bailing out his teammates as the Lions (2-3) crept closer behind the shooting of junior guard Jay McGrath, who finished with 16 points.
Meurer sparked a 12-2 ICCP run to end the first half with a pair of 3-pointers -- from the left and right arcs -- and for good measure added a fastbreak jumper as time expired to give the Knights a 32-21 halftime lead.
Lisle climbed back to 41-33 to start the fourth quarter, but Meurer corrected for that with another 3 from the top of the key.
But arguably his biggest play of the night wasn't a scoring play. With 1:13 left and the Knights clinging to a 48-41 lead, after a 7-2 Lisle run that was sparked by a McGrath 3, Meurer found sophomore center Ryan Wojtalewicz on a pass down low. Wojtalewicz hit the layup and was fouled by senior forward Devin Tincu. He promptly made the free throw.
"Alex is a key all-around guy for us," ICCP coach T.J. Tyrrell said. "He's very smart in his shot selection, and it showed tonight. Very high-percentage shots, a lot of them were not contested, they were in rhythm, catch-and-shoot opportunities, and he just did a nice job of following through and knocking them down."
But McGrath was no slouch, either. He hit a 3-pointer from the right arc at 6:28 of the second quarter and was fouled, resulting in a 4-point play that tied the game 14-14. With 4:15 in the third quarter, he hit another 3 that pulled the Lions to within 36-29.
"Right now, Jay leads us in rebounding, assists, steals and 3-point shots," Lisle coach Mark LaScala said with a laugh. "Other than that, he doesn't do a lot.
"He's in this group the only one who played a lot of varsity minutes last year, and we expect big things from Jay."
McGrath, who played much of the fourth quarter with four fouls, said that despite the loss, there was one good thing to come out of Tuesday's contest.
"It's good to know that we have a lot to learn," he said. "We have a lot of goals in the season and we have to take care of the ball. We learned a lot tonight."