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Brother Rice's Quinn Niego dribbles past St. Ignatius Lester Larry. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
In the final few minutes of the first quarter St. Ignatius longtime coach Rich Kehoe decided to slow things down against host Brother Rice. The strategy backfired quickly, failing to wear down the Crusaders stingy defense.
The Crusaders responded with a 12-0 run, breaking open a 9-8 game and eventually registering a 43-24 Catholic league crossover win on senior night. The victory marked the first 20-win season for the Crusaders since 2005 when they made the Class 4A state quarterfinals and won 27 games.
To go with that, all seven of the Crusaders’ seniors -- Tom Cunningham, Nick Dansart, Jim Barista, Cal Kennedy, Alex Majewski, Nick Boback, and Matt Page -- scored at least one point.
“They’ve all worked hard and that was good to see,” Brother Rice coach Pat Richardson said. “We had 19 wins a couple of times and that was real important to get to 20 wins.”
Richardson started five seniors -- two who normally don’t start -- and played them the entire first quarter in which they built a 13-8 lead. Cunningham and Dansart, the two seniors who normally don’t start, had three points each in the period.
Normal starters Ray Rubio and Quinn Niego returned in the second quarter and helped the Crusaders (20-5) outscore the Wolfpack 8-3. The Wolfpack (15-11) didn’t score until 2:37 left in the half on a three-pointer by Lester Larry, accounting for the last points of the half by either team.
Larry had nine of his team’s 11 points in the first half, which ended with the Crusaders in charge 21-11. Larry was held scoreless from that point on. Kennedy had seven of his 12 points for the Crusaders at the break.
Scary moment came early in the third when the Wolfpack’s Aaron Allen landed on the back leg of Majewski. After going down in pain, Majewski (8 points) walked off on his own power but didn’t return to the game.
“I feel good,” said Majewski, who will have until Tuesday to get better when his team starts regional play. “I’ll be ready. Stuff like that happens. Put some ice on it and keep it wrapped up and I’ll be fine.”
The Crusaders started the third with a 9-2 run for a 30-13 lead, and 33-18 at the end of the period. The Wolfpack would get no closer than 15 in the final quarter.