St. Viator forward Peter Lambesis was on fire Friday night at St. Patrick High School in Chicago, and as a result the Lions singed the Shamrocks.
The 6-foot-4 Lambesis finished with 22 points, including two slam dunks, to go with 9 rebounds in St. Viator's 55-40 win over the Shamrocks in East Suburban Catholic Conference play.
The win keeps the Lions a step ahead of Marist, which edged Notre Dame 44-37 on Friday.
St. Viator improved to 18-5, and more importantly 6-0 in the conference race. Marist travels to St. Viator next Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. showdown.
"It's tough to get a double-double in this conference," said Lambesis. "I'll take the win. It matters more."
While Lambesis was a one-man highlight reel on this occasion, the Lions received strong support from Jeremiah Hernandez (12 points) and Treyvon Calvin (10).
"Without Jeremiah and Treyvon," said St. Viator coach Quin Hayes, "Peter might not have had the game he had tonight."
Calvin scored 6 points and Hernandez 4 in the first quarter as St. Viator led after the first quarter 15-8.
The Shamrocks (12-10, 3-3) were able to stay close and trailed 23-18 at the halftime break.
The Lions began to open up the lead in the third quarter, and Calvin was a key.
"Coach told us we could not take St. Pat lightly, not in their gym," said Calvin. "My job was to find the open area and get the ball to whoever got open."
With St. Viator leading 27-22 with 4:55 left in the quarter, Calvin found Lambesis open on the baseline. Lambesis slammed the ball home to start a 10-3 run which got the Lions to a 37-25 lead by period's end. Connor Kuchera hit back-to-back 3s for St. Viator in that span.
"That helped open some space for us," said Hayes. "We had 9 turnovers in the first half, which kept the game close. We took care of the ball better with only 3 turnovers in the second half, and that was the difference."
Hernandez started the fourth quarter with a 3-point play, which was followed by another Lambesis dunk from an assist by Matt Doersching and a 42-25 lead.
The Shamrocks countered with a 8-1 spurt to get within 10 at 43-33 with 5:00 left.
Lambesis was fouled moments later by promising sophomore Joe Fanning (7 points), who took exception to the call and was hit with a technical foul. Lambesis hit 4 free throws and followed with another basket on a Hernandez assist.
"I felt really good out there," said Lambesis. "Once you get going as a player, nobody stops you. You have to believe in yourself and you have the confidence to keep going. We have a lot of grit on this team. Winning here tonight wasn't easy. Now we have to get ready for Marist next Saturday."
"Where Peter has improved the last month is taking the ball to the basket," said Hayes. "Tonight he played great at both ends."
Hayes knows the Lions need to keep stepping up to protect their ESCC lead.
"This was really an important win," said Hayes. "St. Pat did not play well Tuesday (in a loss to Loyola), and we knew that they would be ready to go. We have Marist at home and tough games on the road with Nazareth and Carmel. This conference race is far from over."