St. Viator's Jeremiah Hernandez had, by all accounts, a strong basketball game against Bartlett at the Lions' Cahill Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
The 6 foot 4 junior led his team with 21 points, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in the Lions 50-49 win over the Hawks.
Hernandez's biggest play, though, came on defense -- with :05 left in the game.
At that point, the Hawks trailed 50-47 with :15 left following a free throw from St. Viator's Connor Kochera.
Ben Tompson tried to tie the game with a 3-point shot from the left corner -- but Hernandez swatted the ball out of bounds.
"I was in the corner, protecting my area," said Hernandez. "I saw him getting ready to shoot and I was thinking, 'Don't foul him.' With my arm length I was able block the ball pretty well."
The Hawks (13-11) still had :03 left on the clock but the attempt to tie the game went awry.
"We set up a few options on the play in our timeout," said Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith. "Our inbounder saw Garrett Jurina cutting to the basket and passed the ball to him. We got the 2 points -- but we needed 3. I'll have to look at the film to see what happened. Maybe he thought Jurina was going to kick the ball out to the arc."
The 21-5 Lions jumped out to a 12-2 lead behind the effort of Hernandez, who scored St. Viator's first 8 points. Peter Lambesis (15 points, 6 rebounds) scored the Lions' last 8 points of the quarter for a 16-7 Viator lead.
St. Viator was playing without star guard Treyvon Calvin, who missed the game with an illness. The Lions led 28-16 at the halftime break.
Hernandez' 3-point play with 7:45 left in the game gave the Lions a 40-23 lead.
The Hawks, though, came on strong cutting the lead with help from Tomas Vikonis, who had 8 of his 11 points in the quarter, and Byron Price who scored all 8 of his points in the fourth quarter. Ben Fisher (11 points) fouled out midway in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't come out with much confidence and emotion to start the game, but we finished well," said Wolfsmith. "To come that close to beating St. Viator on their floor will build confidence in our players."
Lions coach Quin Hayes with happy with the win and praised Kochera (6 points) and Kennedy Gawin, who took four charges.
"Jeremiah finished the fourth quarter with some good plays for us," said Hayes. "Give Bartlett a lot of credit. After scoring 23 points in the first three quarters they played real hard and never quit."
Hernandez, who goes about his business quietly on the floor, also took his performance in stride.
" I'll do whatever I can to help us win the game," said Hernandez. "It's something you do for the team. We did not take Bartlett lightly. We knew they would play us tough.
"On defense I work pretty hard in practice and I know that to get to the next level I have to continue to work. I have the tools to do it. I just have to keep working on it."