By Steve Millar
Loyola recruit Marquise Kennedy had a typically huge performance for Brother Rice last week at Mount Carmel, but for the Crusaders to rally for a win, he needed a little help from his friends.
Senior guard Jimmy Gavin answered the call, hitting three big 3-pointers in the second half and scoring 14 points as Brother Rice came back from an 11-point deficit to beat the Caravan 65-61 in a Catholic League crossover on Jan. 4.
“It’s my senior year and I need to make the most of it, so I started shooting as many threes as I could in the gym every day before the season to get ready,” Gavin said. “I just wanted to be able to help my team like this.”
Kennedy led the Crusaders (12-5, 4-2 Catholic Blue) with 28 points and nine rebounds.
Josh Redic finished with 24 points and six rebounds for Mount Carmel (12-5, 4-2 Catholic White).
Gavin stepped up after receiving a pep talk from Kennedy after Mount Carmel had surged to a 45-34 lead midway through the third quarter.
“Marquise told me, ‘I need you now,’” Gavin said. “I told him, ‘I’ve got you, Quise.’ I hit those threes and I think I made him pretty happy.”
After Kennedy sparked a 6-0 run to get Brother Rice within 45-40, Gavin hit a pair of threes over the final 2:12 of the third and the Crusaders closed the gap to 48-46 entering the final quarter.
“Jimmy always comes through in the clutch for us,” Kennedy said. “He knows I’m looking for him. Every time I drive through the hole, I know if I can kick it out to him for an open three, there’s a good chance it’s going in.”
After Rice’s Colin Campbell hit a jumper to tie the game, Gavin buried another 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth to put the Crusaders on top, 51-48.
After Mount Carmel went back up one, a 7-0 Crusaders surge that included a Kennedy drive, a Campbell 3-pointer and a basket inside from Luke Moustakas, pushed the visitors to a 60-54 lead with 3:30 to go.
The Caravan fought back and had the ball down 63-61 with under 20 seconds left, but Conor Glennon came up with a steal and hit two free throws to seal the win.
Although the Crusaders needed several of their role players to push them over the top, much of the game was highlighted by the showdown between Kennedy and Redic, who guarded each other most of the night.
“It was a great matchup,” Kennedy said. “He played me tough, I played him tough. I knew he was going to score anyways, but I tried to hold him back as much as I could.”
Redic enjoyed battling with a highly-touted player such as Kennedy, though he was disappointed the Caravan let a potential win slip away.
“It was fun playing against him,” Redic said. “He’s a really good player.
“We just didn’t put our foot on their throats. We should’ve finished it off.”
Liam McDonagh added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Caravan, while Will Mendez scored 9 points.
Deandre Hagan finished with 8 points for the Crusaders, who impressed coach Bobby Frasor with their resilience.
“I was proud of how we were able to scrap back in it,” Frasor said. “We’ve been talking to the guys about the fight and how much they want it this year and they showed me a lot right there.”