Marmion can't solve St. Joseph
The odds were stacked against Marmion for its boys basketball game against traditional power St. Joseph Tuesday night.
The Chargers are not only the defending Class 3A state champion but also boast coach Gene Pingatore, who holds the state record for most career wins.
St. Joseph also has the top-ranked senior in the state in 6-foot-11 center Nick Rakocevic.
The Chargers' uncommitted post player was a dominant force in leading his team to a 61-49 Chicago Catholic League North victory in Aurora.
"He's gotta be up there with them," Pingatore said when asked where Rakocevic ranks in his pantheon of great players. "His upside is huge. I was pleased with Nick. He showed leadership tonight, and I was pleased with that."
St. Joseph played a game reminiscent of a different era.
The team did not attempt a single 3-pointer in never trailing.
Marmion (9-12, 2-6) had a 9-2 run, capped by a Josh Ruddy 3-pointer, to forge the only tie of the game after the Chargers (15-6, 7-1) scored the first 7 points of the contest.
The Cadets played admirably throughout the contest, making sure St. Joseph never opened the gap by more than 6 points the remainder of the first half.
"We were in it in the first half," Marmion coach Joe Currie said. "I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job (on Rakocevic)."
But very makable shots would be the Cadets' undoing against the Westchester high school.
"We had some good looks that just didn't fall for us," Currie said. "We have to hit shots like that."
The game had its fair share of peculiarities. All 15 combined players who saw action scored.
But Marmion could not counteract the game-high 22 points Rakocevic registered.
The Chargers' inside force was ably complemented by fellow returning starter Lavon Thomas, who added 16 points.
Marmion, meanwhile, had a balanced attack throughout its eight-man rotation. Hunter Weber hit two of the Cadets' five 3-pointers in scoring a team-high 12 points.
"I thought we played pretty well," Weber said. "We gave it our best effort. Maybe, defensively, we could have done a little better."
Mike Seraphin reduced the Cadets' 30-25 halftime deficit to 4 points with a field goal at the two-thirds mark of the third quarter. But Marmion would never come any closer as Rakocevic had back-to-back dunks as part of a 12-2 burst bridging the final two quarters.
"It doesn't matter if it's a Monday or Tuesday, we have to be ready to play," Rakocevic said. "We're getting better as a team every day."
Ruddy had three 3-pointers in scoring all 9 of his points for Marmion.
Matt Fletcher had 8 points for the Cadets, while Seraphin and Sam Doroff added 5 apiece.