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Learning experience

  • Written by Ken Karson

Youthful RedHawks swept away by Marian

  Young teams understandably go through extended learning curves, and Marist’s 2013-14 basketball squad is no different in that regard.
  In some ways, the RedHawks seem to be on the fast track, an assertion that has legs based on their gaudy record through the schedule’s first 19 games. Even with senior Nic Weishar — unquestionably its most tested varsity performer — in and out of the lineup due to a nagging ankle injury, Marist had piled up 15 wins prior to squaring off with Marian Catholic Friday night in Chicago Heights.
  The state-ranked Spartans, however, gave the RedHawks a hard lesson at Casey Court. What Marian taught its East Suburban Catholic Conference rival was that Marist still has plenty of room to grow.
  Of course, having Tyler Ulis in their lineup made it easy for the Spartans to offer instruction. The Kentucky-bound point guard wasn’t alone, either, as Marian came at the Weishar-less RedHawks in waves.
  Down 34-21 at halftime, Marist saw any hopes for a comeback dashed in the opening minutes of the third quarter, when the Spartans went on an 11-0 tear. Josh Cohn hit two baskets, including a 3-pointer, for Marian during the run, and the hosts also pulled down five offensive rebounds in the period’s first four minutes.
  The RedHawks eventually fell behind by as many as 29 points before outscoring the Spartans 17-6 in the last frame. Still, all that did was make the final score — 57-44, in favor of Marian — more respectable.

  “It got close at the end when their substitutes came in, but that [margin] was not indicative of how the game went,” Marist coach Gene Nolan said. “I was impressed with all of their kids, who can hurt you in so many ways. They can really shoot and stretch the defense, and they can dribble-drive if you go out to guard them.
  “They have all five starters back from last year, and some of them started as sophomores. You can really tell how well they play together and, offensively, they pose problems for you.”
  Marian, which has yet to lose a conference contest this season, jumped out to a 19-7 advantage and appeared primed to bury the RedHawks (15-5, 2-2) early, but Marist retaliated with a 7-0 spurt that featured input from Brian Holland (3-pointer), Jeremiah Ferguson and Kevin Lerma.
  “For portions of the early part of the game, we were doing well,” Nolan said. “I didn’t feel the game was out of reach even at halftime.”
  The Spartans’ second-half break from the gate changed all that. Cohn finished with 16 points to pace Marian, while Ulis tossed in 15.
  “Tyler is the very definition of a great player,” Nolan said. “Not only is he great individually, but he makes the players around him great.”
  The Spartans made good on 52 percent of their shots, out-rebounded Marist 29-21 — with 13 of those snared on the offensive end — and committed just nine turnovers. The RedHawks, meanwhile, posted a field-goal percentage in the low 40s and were guilty of 15 miscues.
  “Marian Catholic is doing that to a lot of teams,” Nolan said, referring to the Spartans’ overall superiority. “[But] these are the types of teams and types of games we need to play, and to our kids’ credit they did battle back and not give up.”
  Ferguson was Marist’s lone double-figure man with 10 points, but Holland and Bradley Hill were right behind him with nine and eight, respectively. Lerma totaled six points and a team-high five boards.
  “The whole scope as the season goes on is [pretty basic]: Are we improving?” Nolan said. “You don’t need to win to improve, [but] we want to always be trending in that direction and taking one more step [forward]. My job is to make sure we don’t forget that, and hopefully we can take this game and learn something from it.”
  The RedHawks were also slated to play Chicago Agricultural Science last Tuesday, but that game was postponed and rescheduled for Feb. 27. Awaiting Marist this week were St. Rita and Benet Academy, the latter of which visits Mount Greenwood for an ESCC matchup on Friday.

Statistics

Marist 7 14 6 17 - 44
Marian Catholic 16 18 17 6 - 57

Marist Scoring: Ferguson 10, Holland 9, Hill 8, Lerma 6, Barry 5, Hawkins 3, Burrell 2, Tucker 1. Rebounds: Lerma 5, Tucker 4. Assists: Barry 3, Hawkins 3.