RedHawks rough up local rival St. Laurence
Gene Nolan can empathize with what Mark Sevedge is going through during the 2013-14 basketball season.
When he took over as head coach at Marist, Nolan’s first two clubs struggled to find success. At one juncture, the young leader joked that his career record was the worst in Illinois.
Much has changed since then, and Nolan believes his counterpart at St. Laurence will eventually enjoy a greater number of bright moments as well. Sevedge is no hoops novice, but some of his current players are, at least from a varsity-experience standpoint, which has undoubtedly contributed to the Vikings’ difficulties.
“They lost a lot to graduation and they’re going through that [rough] stage,” Nolan said. “It’s a testament to their kids on how hard they play. You can tell Mark and his staff are doing a great job.
“They’re going to find their identity and they will get better.”
That may indeed be true, but it didn’t happen last Tuesday night in Mount Greenwood. Even though Nolan can easily relate to Sevedge’s present dilemma, that was of no consequence to his athletes.
The RedHawks were quite inhospitable to St. Laurence on game night, jumping out to a 19-3 first-quarter lead and extending that margin to 23 points (34-11) by intermission. The Vikings eventually wound up on the wrong end of a 50-30 final.
Sevedge originally thought his club might have caught a break because Marist star Nic Weishar was still sidelined with an injury, but even without the 6-foot-5 senior forward in the lineup the RedHawks (13-4) still outsized their neighborhood rival. And at those times when Marist was unable to do damage inside, it managed to strike effectively from the outside.
“Marist was able to get whatever they wanted,” Sevedge said. “Marist pressured us hard and took us out of what we wanted to do. Everything was rushed and there were only a couple possessions where I felt we executed what we wanted.
“The fact we held them down in the second half was not indicative of how the game went. I think they called off the dogs [because] there was nothing we did well.”
Six RedHawks contributed to their team’s rapid getaway and three different players sank 3-pointers in the opening period. Kevin Lerma was Marist’s top performer with team-high totals of 13 points and six rebounds, but Brian Holland (11 points), Jeremiah Ferguson (nine) and Ken Rivard (seven points, three assists) also made their presences felt.
The RedHawks took only 30 shots in the contest, but canned 60 percent of those. And of their 14 turnovers, just five occurred before halftime.
“Efficiency is the end goal,” Nolan said. “We want balance, both individually and in terms of spacing the floor, and we always want one point — or more — per possession.
“I thought we played well from the start. We took care of the ball and cut well, and we had a combination of interior and perimeter scoring. Anytime you can do both it makes it difficult for the defense because they have to make a choice [on what to try to stop].”
Rich Lamb and sophomore Brett Risley had eight points apiece to lead St. Laurence, which went 9-of-33 from the field. The Vikings were also guilty of 17 turnovers, a happening Sevedge attributed to good preparation on Marist’s part.
“Our guards are young and on the small side,” he said. “When teams scout us well, they try to take advantage of that.”
For the third time in as many seasons, a matchup between the RedHawks and Falcons was decided by a buzzer-beating basket. On Friday, a Harlan player made it in overtime to secure a victory for his squad.
Nolan said a photograph taken of the last play showed the ball still in the athlete’s hands after the clock had hit zero, but he refused to cite that as the difference in the game. Rather, Nolan pointed to his own team’s 21 turnovers and 10 missed free throws, as well as the 18 offensive rebounds it surrendered.
“We can’t cheat the game of basketball like that and win,” he said. “It’s really amazing to think we had several chances to win this game.”
Lerma’s layup with 20 seconds left in regulation forged a 53-all deadlock, and Marist then got up 57-55 in OT. But after rebounding a missed Falcons free throw, the RedHawks squandered an opportunity to increase their edge by losing possession on a traveling call.
Marist had been in good shape through the first three quarters, as it held the lead at each period stop, thanks to significant input from Holland (15 points), Lerma (13 points, seven rebounds), Ferguson (12 points, eight assists, five rebounds), Brian Barry (nine points, four assists) and Ryan Tucker (six rebounds, four assists).
“Offensively, we were getting great shots from great players,” Nolan said. “And defensively, we were playing well. [But] in the fourth quarter, they sort of imposed their will on us. Their pressure got to us — they sped us up and turned us over.”
Also hampering the RedHawks later on was the loss of three players to fifth fouls. Nolan, though, didn’t want to detract from the Falcons’ accomplishments.
“Harlan’s good,” he said. “They lost to Morgan Park about a month ago by two points and lost to Simeon by six about 10 days before they played us. These are the kind of games that test you, but I think our kids are going to respond very well [after this].”
Marist returned to action this past Tuesday against another familiar foe, Brother Rice, and will meet Nazareth Academy on Friday.
Gordon Tech 44
St. Laurence 37
A 16-1 surge in the third quarter boosted the Rams past the Vikings in a Chicago Catholic League confrontation Friday night in Burbank. That run enabled Gordon Tech to erase a 21-19 halftime deficit.
Preceding the Vikings’ disastrous third period was an almost-as-devastating second frame. In the earlier one, St. Laurence (2-13, 0-7) mustered just four points and also did not record a basket.
The Rams’ switch from a man-to-man to zone defense was partially responsible for hamstringing the Vikings, who had tossed in three 3-pointers in the opening stanza and erupted for 17 points. Lamb accounted for eight of those.
But his loss to a partially separated shoulder early in the third quarter is what essentially sounded the death knell for St. Laurence.
“He’s usually our most consistent scorer,” Sevedge said of Lamb. “When he went down, that hurt us.”
Despite his absence for almost the entire second half, Lamb still ended up as the Vikes’ biggest scorer with 10 points. He also pulled down a team-best five rebounds. Quentin Forberg (eight points) and Bob Kelly (seven points, three assists) were other St. Laurence notables.
While the Vikings again were unable to find their shooting eye — 25 percent accuracy from the floor and five missed charity tosses in the fourth quarter were the most glaring deficiencies — they never lost sight of Gordon Tech.
“I thought, for the most part, we played pretty good defense,” Sevedge said. “And what also helped us stay in the game was that they were 7-of-25 at the line.”
A great deal of the Rams’ production came down low, where a 6-foot-6, 275-pound player and another who checked in at 6-4, 230 led them. That beefy duo was responsible for 10 of Gordon Tech’s 16 points in the pivotal third frame.
A nonconference encounter with Hancock awaited the Vikings this past Tuesday and they will host St. Joseph in another Catholic League clash on Friday.
“We’re [also] hosting a regional this year, so hopefully we’ll be hitting our stride soon,” said Sevedge, whose 2012-13 contingent played its best ball at the end of last season.
“It’s been hard. I think [many] people respect what we’re trying to do, but I know [other] people aren’t thinking real positive about me. But we’re working our butts off and staying positive.”
And that, he hopes, will be enough to keep all his players on board.
“Of our 13 players on the roster, 10 are multi-sport athletes,” Sevedge said. “When you go through a tough season, you wonder if they’re [already] thinking about baseball or football workouts.”
St. Laurence 3 8 7 12 - 30
Marist 19 15 10 6 - 50
St. Laurence Scoring: Lamb 8, Risley 8, Aderman 6, Delaney 2, Gurgone 2, Kelly 2, Don Curley 1, Forberg 1. Rebounds: Lamb 3. Assists: Delaney 2.
Marist Scoring: Lerma 13, Holland 11, Ferguson 9, Rivard 7, Hill 5, Tucker 3, Hawkins 1, Sterba 1. Rebounds: Lerma 6, Hawkins 5. Assists: Tucker 5.
Marist 11 17 11 14 6 - 59
Harlan 7 14 10 22 8 - 61
Marist Scoring: Holland 15, Lerma 13, Ferguson 12, Barry 9, Hill 5, Tucker 3, Rivard 2. Rebounds: Lerma 7, Tucker 6, Ferguson 5. Assists: Ferguson 8.
Gordon Tech 16 3 16 9 - 44
St. Laurence 17 4 1 15 -37
St. Laurence Scoring: Lamb 10, Forberg 8, Kelly 7, Radford 6, Dan Curley 2, Delaney 2, Gurgone 2. Rebounds: Lamb 5. Assists: Delaney 3, Kelly 3.