Kochera reaches 1,000 as St. Viator downs Naperville C. for title

  • The St. Viator boys basketball team poses with its championship trophy from the Lakes MLK Tournament Monday.

      The St. Viator boys basketball team poses with its championship trophy from the Lakes MLK Tournament Monday. Patricia Babcock McGraw | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/20/2020 7:33 PM

A trophy is always really nice, but the St. Viator boys basketball team was happy with just a few wins.

"We needed this, and we knew we needed it," senior guard Michael Campagna said of the Lions' championship on Monday at the inaugural Martin Luther King Shootout at Lakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

St. Viator got by Naperville Central 50-32 in the championship game, going 3-0 in the tournament and getting a shiny silver trophy for its efforts after having gone 0-3 in their three games prior to the tournament.

The Lions (13-7) had lost to Notre Dame, Loyola and St. Patrick and were simply needing a win. The MLK trophy was icing on the cake.

"We went through a little struggle and morale was low, but we got our minds right and when we met up today, we all agreed and we said, 'We're going to go out and get this one today,' " Campagna said. "We played fast and I think we wanted it a little more."

St. Viator blew open the game in the third quarter.

The Lions were up by just 6 points at halftime (20-14) but outscored Naperville Central 16-7 in the third on a couple big baskets by Michael Huene and a 6-for-6 performance at the line. Junior Aidan Harrington was 4-for-4 during that stretch.

St. Viator got another big performance out of senior guard Connor Kochera, who was named to the all-tournament team.

After going off for a career-high 40 points on Saturday against Waukegan, Kochera dropped in a game-high 19 points against Naperville Central (14-4).

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In scoring a 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter, Kochera, who will be playing at Division I William & Mary next year, notched his 1,000th career point.

"It's been a pretty exciting (tournament)," Kochera said. "I'm just trying to enjoy it, and I'm really thankful for my teammates and all the opportunities I've had."

One of those teammates, Campagna, says he's been around for all of Kochera's points, and more.

"I've been playing basketball with him pretty much my whole life, since first or second grade, maybe even earlier," Campagna said of Kochera. "He has the best work ethic I've ever seen. I can't even put it into words how hard this kid works. Seven days a week, thousands of shots over the summer. He inspires everyone on the team to work harder and I could not be happier for him (scoring 1,000 points). He deserves it."

Campagna added 11 points and was St. Viator's only other double-figure scorer. Harrington finished with 8 points on an 8-for-8 performance at the line. Huene had 6 points and the Lions got a 3-pointer out of Jack Mahoney in his first appearance of the season. Mahoney, St. Viator's star quarterback, hurt his knee during football and has been rehabbing for months and is finally getting clearance to play basketball.

Meanwhile, Naperville Central got 16 points out of 6-foot-10 senior center Chris Conway, who signed with Division I Oakland in Michigan, and 9 points out of Cameron Dougherty.

"At halftime, we thought we could come back from being 6 down (20-14), but I think it was the third quarter where our defense was pretty good, but we just couldn't hit shots," said Conway, who also made the all-tournament team. "We knew we were in trouble. Normally, we make those shots that we were missing."

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