Schmidt scores career-high 34 as St. Viator dumps Marian Central

 
 
Updated 12/17/2021 10:45 PM

There was just cause for concern on St. Viator's bench after the first quarter against Marian Central.

The Hurricanes' 6-foot-5 sophomore Christian Bentancur had scored 10 points and looked like a huge problem for the Lions, who have no player taller than 6-2.

 

"I told our kids this Marian Central team is tough," St. Viator coach Michael O'Keeffe said. "They have the best sophomore and one of the top players in the conference (Bentancur) and they compete to the very end."

But the game quickly took a turn in the Lions' favor in the second quarter when they turned up their man-to-man defensive pressure and 6-2 guard Dillon Schmidt caught fire.

Marian turned the ball over 24 times in the final three quarters and Schmidt poured in his career-high 34 points for a 68-51 Lions' victory in an East Suburban Catholic Conference boys basketball game Friday night at Landers Pavilion in Woodstock.

The win ended a six-game losing streak for St. Viator (3-6, 1-1), which is without All-ESCC point guard Eli Aldana, who is out with an injury.

Marian led, 22-14, early in the second when Schmidt, who recently had a bout with the flu, hit his first basket, beginning a string of five consecutive makes, three of which were 3-pointers.

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Schmidt did not practice last week because he was sick. He finished hitting 10 of 15 field goals with 5 3s.

"The coaches have been believing in me and finally everything's starting to come together as a team," Schmidt said. "It's a good win. I'm glad we beat a conference team."

Schmidt's rebound basket midway through the second quarter cut it to 23-22, then guard Hunter Duncan drove for a layup that gave the Lions the lead for good.

Marian (4-7, 0-4) could not string enough baskets together because of the turnovers. The Hurricanes shot 54.3% from the field, but in the second half they only attempted the same number of field goals as they committed turnovers (17).

"The whole game was turnovers," Hurricanes coach Charley Walsh said. "Our inability to handle the basketball. It was constant pressure. We dribbled the ball far too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We were exposed, we didn't handle the ball well, all our guys. I loved the way we came out, we did what we wanted to do, defensive rebounds and transition points."

Bentancur finished with 27 points on 10 of 14 shooting and seven rebounds. He thought the first quarter was a promising sign.

"We stopped pushing the ball as much as we could have," Bentancur said. "Our confidence was up. They started making shots and we lost a little bit of our confidence. They pressured us pretty hard."

With only one day after playing Crystal Lake South to prepare, O'Keeffe liked what he saw defensively to slow down Bentancur.

"Our goal was to minimize 24's touches and his open looks," O'Keeffe said. "He's a heck of a player. Our on-ball pressure on their guards really affected them and wore them down as the game went on. That was definitely beneficial to us."

Marian cut the lead to 40-38 in the third quarter, but the Lions pushed it back to 47-40 at the end and then enjoyed shooting free throws with the double bonus most of the fourth quarter. St. Viator hit 16 of 24 free throws in the fourth quarter.

"They brought it to us with their intensity and we didn't respond well by turning it over," Marian forward Jayson Lange said. "The full-court press slowed down our press break. We like to get out fast and get easy baskets down the floor. We tried to get it down in the paint to Christian, but they figured it out and we didn't handle the ball very well."

Duncan added 13 points for the Lions and RJ Gamble scored six.

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