02/02/2013 WIlmette Notre Dame junior Duante Stephens (33) drives to the net through the Loyola defense during the "War On The Shore" tournament game at Loyola High School on Saturday, February 2, 2013. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Matt Mooney said he was successful in playing through pain at times last season.
But Friday’s fall was too much for him to overcome, resulting in the Notre Dame senior guard and Air Force recruit missing his first game since his sophomore season.
Not to worry, Dons fans.
The 6-foot-4 Mooney said Sunday he hopes to be back in action this weekend when No. 10-ranked Notre Dame (18-4) plays host to Joliet Catholic on Friday and No. 3 Orr on Saturday.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “I will do whatever it takes to return. It stunk missing Saturday’s game. It killed me.”
Mooney bruised his tailbone after a hard foul during the second quarter of Friday’s 47-42 loss to Carmel. He said he woke up Saturday morning in even worse discomfort. The injury sidelined him for that night’s game against Loyola, one the Dons lost 63-54 in overtime.
“I tried to do some stuff around the house, like slides and some running, but I couldn’t play,” said Mooney, who had a similar injury this summer that took about a week to heal. “I do feel better (Sunday), but any time I push off my right side with any force it sends a sharp pain up my right side.”
Senior forward Justin Halloran said the Dons weren’t the same Saturday at Loyola’s War on the Shore without Mooney.
“He’s a huge piece for us,” said Halloran, who recently was out for a spell with a broken knuckle on his right index finger. “He can score, and he also makes plays for others. We struggled on offense without him, and it showed.”
Mooney already seemed to be on the road to recovery Sunday. The Wauconda resident was getting in an afternoon workout at his local YMCA, doing some weight lifting before shooting some baskets in an effort to maintain his form.
“I don’t want to miss any more games,” he said.
Notre Dame, on its first two-game losing streak of the season, continues its gauntlet of opponents this weekend, especially Saturday against Orr, which earned the top seed for the Chicago Public League playoffs after beating Young last week.
“We know we have a special group this season, and we want to be ready for the playoffs,” Mooney said. “We are not afraid to play anyone. We want to be challenged.”