Muench, St. Viator shrug off Loyola
He might not be Michael Jordan, but St. Viator's Ricky Muench has the shrug down perfectly.
Muench gave the perfect Jordan imitation as an exclamation point when he converted his fourth 3-pointer of the night with just over two minutes to play to help lead St. Viator past Loyola 44-21 Tuesday in Arlington Heights.
"I have been told to shoot my whole career," said Muench, who finished 4-for-7 outside the arc for 12 points. "In the last two minutes, coach said to pull out and just go for a layup. So I looked back at him after I hit it. If I missed it, I probably would have got yelled at."
St. Viator coach Quin Hayes liked what he saw from his senior guard on the offense end. But what really had Hayes all fired up was the way Muench and his Lions cohorts played defensively.
"Defense is a mindset with these guys," Hayes said. "It is nothing I do. They understand how important it is and they truly believe it.
"And look at Muench. Not only does he score tonight, but he guards their best shooter (Brandon Danowski) and holds him to just 2 points."
Hayes has been impressed with Muench's effort all season.
"He is the heart of our team," Hayes said. "Look at how hard he works."
While Muench was on target on both ends of the court, the St. Viator defense stymied Loyola (12-6) completely. The Lions (11-4) held the Ramblers to 28 percent shooting (9 of 32).
And even more impressively, St. Viator shut out Loyola in the final period.
"I am proud of them," Hayes said. "I told the guys after the game that nobody runs their offensive as well as Loyola does. And we held them to 21 points."
St. Viator scored 9 unanswered points in the first quarter to open up an 11-2 lead.
Loyola was able to cut the lead to 17-13 with 4:05 left in the first half. But a pair of 3-point plays gave the Lions all the breathing room they needed.
Sal Cannella (7 points) had a steal that he converted into layup and a free throw. Nick Ferrante then came up with an offensive rebound that he turned into a basket and a free throw as the Lions led 23-13 at the half.
St. Viator pulled away in the third period thanks to 3-pointers by Muench and Pat McNamara to lead 31-21 after three. They then put the game away, by keeping Loyola out of the scorebook in the final period as the Ramblers missed all 8 of their shots.
"Muench had it going tonight," said Lions 3-point specialist McNamara, who hit one trey and finished with 9 points.
"But the story was our defense. You don't have to shoot that well when you give up 21 points against a very good team."
It was a perfect start for a brutal eight nights for St. Viator. The Lions will have played 4 games during that stretch against top rated competition.
Friday, St. Viator battles for first place in the East Suburban Catholic Conference at Benet in Lisle.
Viator then turns it around quickly and plays Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the 18th annual High School Hoops Showdown at Hindale Central where the Lions will face a very tough Lyons' team.
Then next Tuesday, Viator is home for a huge neighborhood battle with Hersey.
"This is a huge week for us," McNamara said. "We got one down and few to go."
The Lions hopefully will have Mark Falotico for all those games. Falotico injured his left foot in the first quarter against Loyola and did not return to the game.