Campagna, Kochera lead St. Viator by Marist
The East Suburban Catholic Conference is a tough brand of boys basketball, as was reinforced Friday night at St. Viator.
The host Lions got all they wanted from feisty Marist in a 54-46 win, but even with Connor Kochera doing his thing (22 points), it almost wasn't enough until Michael Campagna stepped up in the second half.
"I was, like, down at halftime," said the 6-foot-3 senior guard. "I had nothing going for me."
And no points on the board either.
Trailing 24-19 as the third quarter opened, Kochera opened with two hoops, one of a nice feed from Campagna. Then Campagna fed Patrick Schumacher for a 3-pointer. And then Campagna took things into his own hands, driving for a go-ahead hoop and laying in another on a nice feed from Aldan Harrington.
By the time he added another driving basket, supplemented by freshman Eli Aldana's 3-pointer and Kochera's hoop from Schumacher, St. Viator (14-7) had the lead.
"My teammates had my back," Campagna said.
After Marist forged ahead one last time on strong inside play from Jabari Hill (12 points), Campagna hit a jumper to tie it and start a 13-point run that would clinch things. That and his driving basket were the first 4 points of the game-clinching run.
St. Viator head coach Quin Hayes couldn't have been more pleased, especially after his club eliminated in the second half what he called its "Achilles' heel" in the first half -- 10 turnovers. Those faults allowed Marist the extra possessions it needed to forge ahead at the half on the play and shooting of Dan Reed and Matt Mahoney.
"We told the kids, at halftime, take care of the basketball and you'll win ballgames," Hayes said.
Sure enough, St. Viator only had 2 second-half turnovers.
Kochera (4 of 4) and Campagna (2 of 2) iced the game at the free-throw line.
For the Lions, it's nice to be playing good ball heading into the heart of their ESCC schedule.
"We're playing good basketball. We've got something to prove," said Campagna, who even expressed an eagerness to play powerhouse Marian Catholic.
As for Hayes, "I like that attitude from my players.