Kochera, St. Viator down Prospect
The points are starting to pile up.
And so are the big games.
It's all becoming somewhat of a blur for St. Viator senior guard Connor Kochera, who had yet another big game on Saturday afternoon against Prospect ... but who's counting?
He poured in a game-high 29 points to lead the Lions to a 61-47 victory over Prospect in the fifth-place game of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic.
Kochera was just 3 points off his career high of 32, which he set twice already this season against ...
"You know what, I can't even remember," Kochera said with a laugh as he forgot which two teams he scored career highs against.
Kochera, who has committed to William & Mary, might not remember all the details, but Prospect probably won't soon forget how potent he was in this game. Kochera connected on 10-of-14 shots, including 2-of-5 3-pointers while also grabbing 5 rebounds and rolling up 3 steals.
"Kochera is without a doubt one of the best talents we'll see this year," Prospect coach John Camardella said. "He's an outstanding leader on the court. We held him to 4 points in the first quarter and we felt good about that, but then they got things rolling at their tempo and so did he."
The game was tied at 13 at the end of the first quarter but then St. Viator grabbed control with a 6-0 run to start the second quarter. The Lions (10-4) outscored Prospect by 10 in the quarter and took a 29-19 lead into the halftime locker room.
St. Viator then opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go up by 17 points midway through the third quarter. Kochera scored 9 points in the period.
"Our defense really picked up and that's what really separated us," Kochera said. "I love the energy the guys brought. As a team, we improved a ton (in the tournament). A lot of guys gained a lot of confidence here and I think that will carry through the season.
"I feel like my role has expanded a ton, too, as a leader and a role model to our young guys. That's what I've been trying to do."
Prospect (6-7) kept trying and trying to cut into its deficit and it succeeded, thanks to hot 3-point shooting.
The Knights, who hit 10 3-pointers on the game, cut their deficit to 10 points by the end of the third quarter (45-35) and then got the margin to just 6 points (49-43) early in the fourth. But St. Viator, which also got 14 points from Connor Benson, closed the game on a 12-4 run thanks mostly to a 10-for-11 effort at the free-throw line in the period.
Marco Shaw and Brian Dini each finished in double figures for Prospect with 17 and 10 points respectively.
"This is a rivalry game for us. Prospect is like 2 miles away, so you knew it was going to be a fight," St. Viator coach Quin Hayes said. "We expected them to stay in it. We needed to defend a little better, but in then end, we were able to do enough to get the win so that was good."