St. Viator's boys basketball team stretched its winning streak to three games by besting Joliet Catholic 64-32 Friday night in East Suburban Catholic Conference play.
Points off of turnovers were a big factor in the Lions' win as they picked the pocket of the Hilltoppers on 20 occasions.
Four Lions posted double-figure scoring totals. Sophomore guard Connor Kochera had a game-high 15 points and 4 steals, senior guard Peter Lambesis posted 11 points and 6 steals, junior guard Treyvon Calvin notched 11 points and 3 steals and junior guard Jeremiah Hernandez had 11 points and 3 steals.
"Defense is our foundation," said St. Viator coach Quin Hayes. "Joliet Catholic was short-handed (due to three injured players), and unfortunately you could tell. They're coached very well. We were able to do what we wanted. We have to continue to get better."
That Lions "foundation" led to two long Joliet Catholic scoring droughts in the first half. St. Viator started the game with an 11-0 run and managed a 24-0 run in the second quarter. The combination of the Hilltoppers shooting woes and turnovers added up to 14 scoreless minutes in the first half for Joliet Catholic.
The foes headed into the locker room with St. Viator at a 38-8 advantage.
"The season has been going well and we're improving every day," Hernandez said. "After the loss to Loyola, we didn't hang our head. We kept up the 'D' and moved the ball, which led to buckets.
"Hopefully this will help us to the next step, which is winning conference."
Following a steal in the first quarter, Hernandez went coast-to-coast and finished with a hostile one-handed dunk. Six of Hernandez's 11 points were off of steals that led to breakaway dunks.
Joliet Catholic returned from halftime with a more aggressive approach and attempted more shots in the paint. This initiated more contact with St. Viator defenders and put the Lions over the team fouls limit midway through the third quarter. The Hilltoppers' second-half effort not only enabled them to take more free stripe attempts, but it also stopped the clock.
Joliet Catholic received a standout performance from sophomore forward Jake Bumstead, who registered a team-high 14 points and 5 rebounds.
St. Viator (15-4, 4-0) has a quick turnaround and hosts Walter Payton High School at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Lions defeated the Chicago Public School program 70-37 last season.
"We've won a couple in a row," Lambesis said. "We play like every game is our last, the opponent is irrelevant. Every game we work on different things. We still need to work on our time management, and finishing games. If we have all the guys clicking, no one can stop us."