St. Francis blows past IC Catholic Prep
A tough early season schedule has St. Francis primed for a strong second half in the Metro Suburban Conference.
On Wednesday night in Elmhurst, the Spartans gave a glimpse of what the New Year might have in store with a 65-41 road victory over IC Catholic Prep.
Coming off a 2-2 mark at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic, which included a close loss to then-undefeated Bolingbrook in the second round, St. Francis (8-5, 2-1) used a 16-0 run in the first half to seize control.
"Our worst is in the past and I believe we are going to start playing our best basketball now," said Sebastian Miller, who scored all 14 of his points in the first half. "And that will set us up for hopefully a nice run in the playoffs.
"We were really moving the ball tonight. At the Jack Tosh, the ball was sticking a little bit. So that is where it started, plus we were taking care of the ball and getting a lot of layups. That is what made us successful."
Miller added four steals and was one of four Spartans in double figures. Sean Killian also had 14 points and Adam Wiborg and Brendan Yarusso scored 12 points apiece. Yarusso tallied nine rebounds and three steals.
"We played our basketball," Killian said. "We were really passing it; at the tournament, it (our passing) wasn't that great. Just trying to build off our practices, we were working on sharing the basketball, and we really did that tonight. The result was a lot of layups and open shots.
"We have a lot of fun out there and we get excited for each other. We don't have one guy who can't get his own shot."
The Spartans' passing was exquisite throughout, with the team registering eight assists on their 10 first quarter baskets and 11 assists total in the first half against the Knights zone. Miller had seven points during the spurt when St. Francis rolled off 16 points in a row, turning a one-point advantage into a 26-9 lead early in the second quarter. Killian contributed a steal and a dunk as the visitors upped the margin to 37-17 by halftime.
"We had one game at the Christmas tournament where we only had three assists," said St. Francis coach Erin Dwyer, whose team has also played the likes of Lake Park, Downers Grove North, Plainfield North and Schaumburg out of conference. "That is not how we are going to win. We have to be a team that shares the basketball and when we do that, we are very fun to watch. And they are an unselfish group of players who have bought into that idea."
The loss for ICCP (7-7, 1-3) spoiled an outstanding individual effort from John Hilgart, who topped all scorers with 23 points. The senior hit a trio of 3-pointers and put up 12 points in the first half and then his team's first eight points of the third quarter.
"John played great," said ICCP coach T.J. Tyrrell, whose team also went 2-2 at the Christmas tournament they co-hosted with Westmont. "He was the one bright spot tonight. I'm really proud of him, he was in the flow tonight and did things inside and out. It was a great effort by him.
"Unfortunately it was a disappointing game from an effort standpoint. We didn't come ready to play after how well we played at our holiday tournament. And this was a big conference game. We took a lot of quick shots that allowed St. Francis to play their type of game, which is to outlet and go."