||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Notre Dame's Eddie Serrano (1) is fouled by St. Viator defenders during their game Saturday evening at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Notre Dame won 64-48. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
The Notre Dame boys basketball team has led in every game it has played this season, even in its two setbacks.
In the 42-41 loss to No. 6 Benet on Jan. 4, the Dons led by six going into the fourth quarter. In a 61-53 loss to No. 2 Morgan Park on Dec. 2, Notre Dame enjoyed a four-point advantage through three quarters.
Which is why Saturday’s 64-48 win over No. 23 St. Viator at the National Guard High School Hoops Showdown at the Sears Centre was significant.
The Dons (18-2 overall, 4-1 ESCC) jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter and never let up. The Lions never got closer than five points and trailed by double digits for most of the second half.
“The two games we lost this year we lost leads,” said Notre Dame senior guard Matt Mooney, who scored a game-high 22 points. “We’ve learned from that. We can’t let teams back into games and give them life. That’s when they get confidence.”
From the opening tip, Mooney said the Dons, who are ranked No. 9 by the Sun-Times, did exactly what they needed to do against the Lions. Notre Dame scored the first seven points — five by senior guard Jake Maestranzi — and led 18-6 after the first eight minutes.
“When you think you are the better team, you have to show that you are the better team,” Mooney said.
The Dons have another test this weekend when they play Loyola (15-5 entering the week) at the War on the Shore. This is Notre Dame’s first appearance in the event’s third year.
Both teams should be among the top seeds at the Glenbrook North Sectional, and Saturday could be a possible preview to a sectional semifinal or sectional final in March.
“They are a good team, a well-coached team,” Mooney said. “It’s good to play teams like them at this time of the year. It’s a big rivalry game for us.”
Notre Dame coach Tom Les said it’s always fun when Notre Dame and Loyola get together.
“It’s a great neighborhood game,” he said. “The crowds are huge, and the boys know each other.”
This is one of the better showcases from top to bottom. Five of the six teams have winning records and the combined record of the six clubs coming into the week was 82-34. Evanston, which is in full rebuilding mode, is the outcast, entering this week 7-13 overall. ... While the Dons are the top-ranked team in the field, the Ramblers are the hottest club, having won their last eight games, including Friday’s come-from-behind thriller against Fenwick. New Trier is right behind them on a seven-game win streak. ... Notre Dame senior Justin Halloran continues to work himself into shape after a right hand injury that forced him to miss the Wheeling tournament. Even though he didn’t score Saturday, the 6-foot-6 forward grabbed a game-best six rebounds against St. Viator in his third game back. “He does a lot of things that go unnoticed,” Mooney said. ... Lake Forest, Notre Dame and St. Viator all are new to the tournament. ... Some players to watch include Ore Arogundade (St. Viator), Reid Berman (New Trier), Evan Boudreaux (Lake Forest), Steven Cook (New Trier), Sam Downey (Lake Forest), Mark Falotico (St. Viator), Matt Mooney (Notre Dame), Jack Morrissey (Loyola) and Donte Stephenson (Notre Dame). ... All the proceeds from the day go to the Danny Did Foundation (www.dannydid.org), an organization dedicated to preventing deaths from seizures.