St. Viator rolls over Hersey
St. Viator's boys basketball team avoided a huge trap Saturday.
The Lions showed that they are more than a two-man band as they rolled past crosstown rival Hersey 59-31 in the annual "Rand Road Border War" game in Arlington Heights.
"It makes things easier when we play like this," St. Viator coach Quin Hayes said. "We told our guys that they (Hersey) are a good basketball team. They play hard and run good stuff. If you just roll the ball out, anybody can beat you on any given night."
St. Viator (10-1) took its coach's words to heart.
The Lions broke away from a 7-6 advantage midway through the first quarter, scoring the next 14 points to close out the quarter. After a Hersey basket to open the second quarter, the Lions rattled off 15 unanswered points to blow the game open with a 36-8 lead with 3:50 left in the first half.
The best part of that run was that it came not from the usual suspects. The Lions, who have leaned heavily on their superstar guards Jeremiah Hernandez and Trey Calvin in the first part of the season, got strong play from their other starters and their key bench players.
"The role players around them are getting better, " Hayes said. " And they are only going to continue to get better. It only helps us in the long run."
Connor Kuchera, Kevin Murphy, Michael Huene, Michael Campagna, Patrick Hammarlund, Jack Mahoney and Owen Hickey have raised their game in recent weeks. That has forced opponents to take their eyes more off Hernandez and Calvin, who each finished with 13 points.
Kuchera, who returned recently from an injury, continued his strong play, leading the Lions Saturday with 15 points.
"I am just trying to be aggressive out there and make plays for my teammates," said Kuchera, who had three 3-pointers an had 7 rebounds.
"I am trying to be confident with my shot. The more weapons we have the harder we are to guard."
Campagna, who came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points that included three 3-pointers, said an early morning conversation with Hayes changed his outlook.
"This morning during our walk-through coach Hayes told me to be confident," Campagna said. "I just got out there and hit one and I had the confidence."
Huene, who is a 6-foot-7 junior, had 4 points and 3 blocked shots. His defensive play made Hersey change the direction of many of its attempts inside. Huene embraces his defensive role.
"I come out on the floor and try to bring the defensive power," Huene said. "It is important to understand your role. Scoring on this team is not an issue. It is defense and that is what I bring."
Hersey coach Austin Scott, whose Huskies (4-5), lost a tough Mid-Suburban East game Friday night to Prospect, just couldn't bounce back Saturday against St. Viator.
"It was rough night in a lot of ways," Scott said. "The excuses are plentiful, but we are not going make any. We needed to be better in every aspect and phase of the game."