IC Catholic falters down the stretch
It's a little easier to know what you're gunning for when you've actually seen it take place and can try and recreate that experience.
After dropping Friday night's Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division opener at Chicago Christian 56-46, IC Catholic Prep is eager to get back to the gym and make some improvements. One of its goals is to play the way the Knights did in the third quarter at Chicago Christian, when a 22-12 advantage erased a halftime deficit and gave the visitors a 38-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
Unfortunately for the Knights, who had entered play 5-0, the hosts opened that final quarter with a 3-pointer and a pair of baskets for a 7-0 run and a lead they would not relinquish. Chicago Christian improved to 3-3 on the year and 1-0 in league play after starting the final quarter fast and then knocking down plenty free throws after ICCP had closed to within 46-43 following a steal and a three-point play from Dominic Gaudio with 2:25 remaining.
"It was for sure interesting," said Gaudio, who finished the night with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. "We have to keep our composure better than we did in the first half. It was our first big game away, there was a big crowd tonight and that may have rattled us. We just have to stay composed. We'll watch this over and come back to work tomorrow."
The Knights couldn't keep Chicago Christian from getting second and third chances early on as the home team pulled in 9 offensive rebounds on their way to a 17-11 lead after eight minutes. ICCP fought back to within 17-16 after Chauncey Lee had a fastbreak bucket off a steal and then Gaudio split a pair of free throws. But Chicago Christian closed out the half with an 8-0 run that featured a long 3-pointer from Brian Anderson, who led all scorers with 17 point.
With Lee, Zach Jordan and Gaudio all having strong third quarters, the Knights stormed ahead before the final quarter eventually did them in. Jordan sank two of his three 3s in the quarter and Lee had a pair of big baskets on his way to a team-leading 15 points despite being plagued by foul trouble much of the second half.
"We're going to most definitely take this back home and practice on it. I would say this was like our first big game. It's a learning experience for us," said Lee, who consistently managed to drive through traffic to the rim. "We have to stay consistent. We have to come out of the gate like we did in the third quarter."
Knights coach T.J. Tyrrell liked seeing his team so sharp in the third quarter after the sluggish start.
"I thought the effort was there for our guys," he said. "I thought they played hard and battled. Coming out down nine at the half and then having the lead after the third ... I'm proud from that standpoint."
"A few little mistakes were the difference. We have some things to work on. Losses open your eyes. We'll get better and learn."