Libertyville holds off St. Viator in OT

By Lou Nunez Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/26/2021 7:50 PM

Libertyville's boys basketball team used a pair of runs in the fourth quarter and overtime to beat St. Viator 48-41 in the opening game of Day 4 of the 44th annual St. Viator Thanksgiving Classic Friday afternoon in Arlington Heights.

The outcome left both squads with identical 2-1 marks on the young season.


After Lion junior guard Eli Aldana's second 3-pointer gave Viator a 9-point lead with 5:26 left in regulation, the Wildcats went on a 13-4 run over the remainder of the fourth quarter that forced extended play thanks to Cole Bonder's putback that tied the contest at 39 with 1:14 left.

Then, after a pair of successful free throws by Cole Bonder, a 6-foot-6 junior forward who had a team-high 10 points, that gave the Wildcats the lead for good at 41-39, senior point guard Jack Huber came with perhaps the two biggest plays of the night that paved the way for Libertyville's win.

First, he fed Cole Bonder's older brother, senior Chase, off his own missed shot that he was able to corral that made it a two-possession game (43-39) with 1:44 left in the extra session. Chase Bonder finished with 9 points.

"We knew we wanted the ball in my hands with Chase screening me," Huber said. "I took a shot and saw the ball bounce back, I grabbed it and hit Chase (for the basket)."

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After a Hunter Duncan drive pulled Viator to within 43-41 with 1:11 to play, Huber (7 points) drilled home the backbreaker with a 3 that made it 46-41. A pair of John Graham free throws closed out the game's scoring.

Huber spoke of having to battle back from foul trouble throughout the contest.

"We just knew we had to come back," he said. "We had a tough first half. I got in foul trouble. Chase Bonder got in foul trouble, so we knew when we were down 9 with five minutes left that we had to come back, which we did."

It was at that time when Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski encouraged his team to just keep playing basketball.

"We keep telling our guys that," Zyrkowski said. "I think early on in the season you can get riled up, so you've got to go back to just playing. We go back to our practices that we've had (thus far) when we're learning to play with adversity and tonight we saw our guys persevere."

Junior Will Buchert added 9 points for Libertyville, 5 of them coming as part of the game-tying run. The Wildcats will open Saturday's final day of tourney play vs. Streamwood.

St. Viator, which will wrap up the tournament against Evanston Saturday, got a game-high 14 points from freshman Josiah Calvin, who hit 4 3-pointers, and 11 points from Aldana.

"Our young kids need to continue to stay together and trust in our system and execute down the stretch because we showed the ability," Lions coach Mike O'Keeffe said. "It's just a couple of minor mistakes against Libertyville that went a long way towards the outcome."

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