Carmel rallies but can't catch St. Viator
Ryan Jackson has been doing double duty for St. Viator.
The 5-foot-9 guard is rostered on both the Lions sophomore and varsity teams, and Friday night against visiting Carmel, he showed why the coaching staff has such faith in him.
Jackson, a sophomore, came off the bench in the second quarter against the Corsairs to give his team a spark, then scored 8 points in the fourth to help hold off a Carmel rally.
Viator held on for a 68-62 East Suburban Catholic Conference boys basketball win at Cahill Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
"I thought at times Ryan was the best player on the court tonight," said Lions coach Michael O'Keeffe. "He's dual rostered, and we've had some injuries so he's been playing only varsity lately.
"He can handle the rock, he made some big time shots, and he made plays for himself and his teammates. He was fantastic."
The Viator victory overshadowed a tremendous fourth quarter performance by Carmel.
The Corsairs shot the lights out and scored 31 points in the final eight minutes, led by Jacob Chajet (13 points in the final period) and Kaleb Jackson (12 points).
"We've just got to put it together," said Carmel coach Dmitry Pirshin. "Sometimes we have stretches where we score and can't stop, and sometimes we get stops but don't score.
"We've got to do a better job of not turning the ball over. The third quarter was tough, like three turnovers in a row. But we're playing a lot of players, and trying to figure it out."
There was a Christmasy atmosphere in they gym Friday, with many of the Viator faithful dressed in holiday attire -- and one student fan wearing the full Santa suit.
Viator added to the merriment right from the opening tip by making 5 of its first 6 3-points shots to open up a big lead.
"We shot the best we have all season," said O'Keeffe. "Putting the ball in the basket has been challenging for us sometimes, so to put up 68 against a good conference opponent is only going to give our kids confidence."
Carmel (3-8, 0-6) cut the lead down to 1 midway through the second quarter on 5 straight points from Chajet.
Then Viator (5-6, 4-2) scored the Next 11 points, and when Eli Adana hit a buzzer-beating layup, the halftime score was 37-25.
The Lions kept putting the ball in the basket in the third quarter, at one point opening up a 19-point advantage.
They still led by 14 with four minutes left, but Carmel charged back behind Kaleb Jackson, Chajet (who had 6 three-pointers on the night), the play of James Dwyer, and a tenacious full-court press.
But the Corsairs couldn't get any closer than the final score.
Chajet paced Carmel with a game-high 21 points; Kaleb Jackson scored 17, Dwyer had 12 while teammate Peter Stavros scored 6 and was strong on the boards with 7 rebounds.
Ryan Jackson led Viator with 14 points, Brandyn Michaels hit for 12 while Mitch Humphrey finished with 11 points.
"Tonight says a lot about our team," said O'Keeffe. "We had a lot of dudes step up, play big minutes, and contribute on both ends of the court."
"Any time you can beat Carmel, which is a great program, it's a real credit to our kids."