One year ago, St. Viator caught many by surprise with its amazing run in the Class 3A state tournament which ended with a supersectional appearance on the Sears Centre stage.
This season, the Lions have taken their game -- and themselves -- to a whole new stage, as they were reassigned to Class 4A this season.
Judging by their final tune-up on Wednesday night, St. Viator just may have the acting skills for another supersectional performance on that very same stage about three weeks from now.
St. Viator downed Nazareth Academy 63-36 on their Cahill Gymnasium home court in the regular-season finale Wednesday.
The win completed a 9-0 run in the East Suburban Catholic Conference as the Lions (23-5) celebrated by cutting down the nets on senior night.
They celebrated their first ESCC crown since 2014, and the fourth in school history.
"It's absolutely amazing," said St. Viator coach Quin Hayes as he prepared to complete the net-cutting process for his team.
The Lions roared in a dominant display that lasted only an hour and 10 minutes after Viator's six seniors -- Peter Lambesis, Matt Doersching, Kennedy Gawin, Brady Collis, Cori Korab and Jack Geary -- were honored prior to tipoff.
"They're a special group." Hayes said. "They've helped to set a culture that the rest of the team fell in line with making this team such a close-knit group."
Lambesis, who scored all 8 of his points in the first quarter, stressed his team's objective in winning its sixth straight and 11th in 12 games.
"We wanted to finish the job," Lambesis said. "We knew coming in how tough Nazareth plays, and how important it was to get off to a good start right from the gate. We wanted to go undefeated through conference play, and more importantly, we didn't want to lose on senior night."
It went in St. Viator's favor in large part due to the junior duo of Jeremiah Hernandez and Treyvon Calvin. They established separation for the Lions against the visiting Roadrunners (8-16, 2-7) in the middle quarters.
The 6-foot-4 Hernandez scored 8 of his game-high 18 in the second period as Viator pulled away to a 31-22 advantage at intermission.
The 6-1 Calvin connected from beyond the arc three times in the third period for 9 of his 14 points. His first 3 two minutes into the second half put the hosts into a double-digit lead for good at 36-24.
Calvin's third 3, in the closing seconds of the third period, helped St. Viator take a 51-30 edge into the final eight minutes.
Connor Kochera, a 6-3 sophomore, joined Hernandez and Calvin in finishing with 12 points. Kochera had 10 in the second half.
Michael Adams, a 6-4 senior, led Nazareth with 16 points and 5 rebounds.
The Roadrunners finish their regular season at home against St. Ignatius. They begin postseason play with a Monday play-in game against Marmion in the Class 3A St. Francis regional in Wheaton.
"I'm proud of our team's effort," said Nazareth coach Sean Pearson. "We just ran into a very good team (St. Viator) that's well-coached, well-disciplined and tough."
The Lions' regional road begins Wednesday at Niles North in Skokie. Despite its perfect ESCC run, Viator drew a No. 6 seeded in the Maine East sectional and will play No. 11 Rolling Meadows and heralded freshman Max Christie.
"It'll be tough, no doubt," Hayes said. "We'll start getting prepared right away. The most important thing for us is to take it one game at a time."