St. Viator can't catch up to Notre Dame
Notre Dame's Stefan Cicic is a 6-foot-10 sophomore center who, for all practical purposes, is still getting his feet wet at the varsity level.
Cicic did not play as a freshman due to injuries in the COVID-shortened season.
Friday night in Niles, Cicic keyed the Dons' third-quarter run. The result was a Notre Dame 43-32 win over St. Viator in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Tied at 23 following a basket by the Lions' Hunter Duncan (11 points, 7 rebounds) with 4:48 left in the quarter, Notre Dame (14-8, 6-1) went on an 11-0 run to lead 34-23 at quarter's end.
Cicic broke the tie with a basket and followed that with a slam dunk. Anthony McGhee followed with a basket and the run finished with Sonny Williams (10 points) scoring 5 points.
"I think that slam dunk I had really got the crowd going," said Cicic. "When our crowd gets into the game it gets me going also. My energy and the team's energy got us going."
"Stefan has made huge strides for us," said Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy. "What helped us in the run was that we got stops. We made some extra passes and players and the lane opened up for us."
Cicic knows what is needed to make him a more complete player.
"I know I need to work harder on my game," said Cicic. "Each morning when I wake up I think to myself 'What can I do in practice or in the game to make myself better.' "
The Dons' Bryce Coleman was a big factor rebounding with 9 and scored 6 points.
"Bryce played a huge part for us in the second half," said Clancy. "He kept them off the boards and was able to give us some points."
The Dons controlled the boards by a 21-15 advantage.
"We had to play with composure and not them speed up the game," said Coleman, a junior. "With my size (6-6) I work to get position so that I can get the rebounds. To be successful down the stretch we have to stay together and trust each other."
The Lions (5-11, 1-4) went through a 7:15 stretch without scoring that hurt their chances in the third and fourth quarters. St. Viator scored 4 of its 12 baskets in the second half.
"We tend to have some games where we have these droughts," said St. Viator coach Michael O'Keeffe. "It's been the story of our season. But, I thought we competed on a high level tonight. We just need to clean some things up on the floor. With our youth, experience will only make us better."
Dillon Schmidt scored 9 points for the Lions. Joey Hernandez and Josiah Calvin each scored 6 points.
"Hunter Duncan has all the physical traits to be a very good player," said O'Keeffe of the junior. "He's a very good defender. He's done a great job for us. He knows he still has things to improve upon."