Strong effort from St. Viator in win over Loyola

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/19/2019 9:42 PM

St. Viator's boys basketball team signed its name just right at the "War on the Shore" in Evanston Saturday.

The Lions, who are know for their staunch defense, came up with their best performance of the season as Viator posted a signature 39-28 win over highly-regarded Loyola Academy

It was a great bounce-back weekend for St. Viator (16-4). The Lions lost Trey Calvin to a broken hand last week and proceeded to drop both games a weekend ago.

"We are adjusting to life without our point guard," St. Viator coach Quin Hayes said. "I though the boys did a heckuva job. "

Having a John Hancock performance for the Lions was Connor Kochera. Not only did he lead St. Viator with 16 points, but the senior completely shut down Loyola's leading scorer, Connor Barrett, holding him scoreless.

"On defense I just had to chase," Kochera said. "Barrett is an awesome shooter. I had to chase him over the screen to make sure he didn't get any clean looks."

Hayes was impressed by Kochera's game.

"I can't say enough about him," Hayes said. "What he did to Barrett was great. "Barrett is one of the best players in the area and one of the best shooters. He held him to zero points. He did a fantastic job defensively and offensively."

Also coming up huge as always was Jeremiah Hernandez. The Kent State commit scored 9 of his 15 points in the first half. That included a 30-footer that beat the horn at the end of the first quarter as Viator led 14-8.

"We knew it was going to be a war of attrition," said Hernandez, who joined the 1,000 point club a few weeks back and now has 1,125 career points.

"It would be whoever would crack first on the defensive end was the one who was going to lose the basketball game. And I think we did a great job."

Despite trailing, Loyola (16-6) remained in its matchup zone. St. Viator was satisfied with that look and slowed the tempo to a crawl. Despite scoring just 2 points in the second quarter, St. Viator still led 16-14 at the break.

The Lions then put together their best span of the season.

Leading 21-16 with 5:59 left in the third quarter, St. Viator held Loyola scoreless for the next 10:23, increasing its lead to 30-16. It wasn't just Kochera, who got help from Hernandez, Michael Campagna, Jack Mahoney and Kevin Murphy as the Lions squeezed the Ramblers.

"We played very well defensively," Hayes said. "Our boys did not break down. They stayed disciplined and they didn't gamble and they took away the driving lanes and closed out under control. It was a solid defensive game for us."

Kochera, who scored all 8 of the Lions' points in the third quarter, added another 6 to help the Lions pull away.

"The first half, they were denying me the ball and it was hard to get open," Kochera said. "I started setting screens for other people and the byproduct of that was getting me open when they had to fight over the screens."

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