Energized St. Francis grabs league victory at IC Catholic
IC Catholic Prep knocked off St. Francis by eight points less than a month ago.
The inside duo of Robert Nocek and Bryce Walker made sure the rematch told a different story.
With both seniors notching double-doubles, the Spartans went on the road to defeat the Knights 64-35 in a Metro Suburban Blue boys basketball matchup in Elmhurst.
The 6-foot-4 Nocek led all scorers with 18 points while adding 14 rebounds, 11 of which came on the offensive end. He had 9 points in the opening half as St. Francis (15-11, 5-4) jumped out to a 28-11 lead and then added 9 more in the third quarter.
"We had a lot more energy tonight," Nocek said when asked about the difference from the first meeting. "We wanted to get some revenge, they beat us on our home court and we wanted to come back and do the same thing."
Another big difference was the impact of Walker, who did not play in the 57-49 loss to ICCP on Jan. 3. The 6-8 center poured in 6 points in the first quarter and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for St. Francis, winner of six of its last eight.
"We've just found a spark," Walker said. "We started playing together as a team and when you do that, great things can happen especially with this group. Our defense tonight was lock down. They couldn't get anything in the lane. We forced them to shoot from the outside and they weren't hitting them."
Indeed, the Knights were held to just 10 field goals in the game and a trio of 3-pointers, two of which came with the running clock in the fourth quarter.
Norvice Landon led ICCP (15-10, 3-5) with 8 points.
"We were very flat today," ICCP coach T.J. Tyrrell said. "We just couldn't get anything going. Give credit to St. Francis, their offensive rebounds hurt us early. But we have to do better. I liked our effort in the second half but even then, we didn't get anything going offensively."
Danny Blank and Sebastian Miller also entered into double figures for the Spartans with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"Ever since the York tournament, we kind of got the ball rolling there," St. Francis coach Erin Dwyer said. "Guys are playing with more confidence and are keeping things simple. It's obviously nice having size like that, but we also can shoot it too."