The first game they played was against CBC and due to a lack of effort and focus they were demolished resembling the beginning of the season mistakes. The Legends of Winter Roundball Classic was next, which proved to be a similar outcome against Cardinal Ritter in comparison to CBC. In the next rounds, SLUH’s young, explosive team flickered as they defeated Bishop DuBourg and John Burroughs, their first two wins of the season. In the consolation championship SLUH had the opportunity to win their third straight but blew the lead in the fourth quarter. Continuing with the bright last games, SLUH held Chaminade to a three-point lead at half but ultimately was never able to overcome the deficit.
“We have had a rough first half of the season. It has been tough to get rhythm, but there is a lot of good and young talent in this program who will continue to get better and make the rest of us better,” senior Carter Kane said.
In the first game of the break, SLUH faced CBC in a one-sided battle. SLUH was able to put up a mere 12 points in the first half next to CBC’s 30 points. SLUH trailed the whole game and couldn’t close the scoring gap. The overall effort and energy was lacking for the Jr. Bills from the start and the final score showed it. SLUH was dominated on the transitional game and rebounds all night, and they were unable to prevent CBC’s explosive three-point game from catching fire.
SLUH’s first game of the Legends of Winter Roundball Classic was against the highly regarded Cardinal Ritter team. Freshman standout Jaden McClain had his high school debut and took over a major role on the team from the second he stepped onto the court with his quick ability to move the ball and momentous energy.
In spite of McClain’s impact, SLUH’s offense was unable to get rolling, only being able to establish their shooting game on occasional outside shots. SLUH was unable to penetrate the paint, an issue they have had all year due to size. The transition defense was inefficient and early turnovers plagued the young team.
SLUH took home their first victory on Dec. 28 against the Cavaliers from Bishop DuBourg. Freshman Luke Johnston put the team on his back, dropping 14 points in the second quarter alone and finishing with 18.
The game was close throughout and SLUH was able to shut down DuBourg’s ability to score points in the paint. It was a deserved win by the boys in blue, but it was not pretty. Seniors Christian Wallace-Hughes and Trip Dolan both were in foul trouble by the second quarter, and SLUH relied on its bench with sophomore Freddie Cooper getting solid playing time.
Following the confidence-boosting win over DuBourg, the Jr. Bills struck again, demolishing John Burroughs 52-36. McClain again showed his quick abilities on the court by putting up 21 points and carrying the brunt of the workload on offense. However, alongside his stellar offensive performance, the defense was all over the place and SLUH committed ten personal fouls in the first half. With early foul trouble and repeat issues with turnovers, SLUH was unable to hold their momentum against Burroughs.
“Once we get our issue with composure and turnovers down, we will be good,” said Dolan. “I think we did well with that against DuBourg and Burroughs, which in the end, proved out well for us.”
The next and last game of the consolation bracket for the Jr. Bills proved to be a heartbreaker, as the team showed a more balanced offense and a strong three quarters against Urbana. Notable performances were from the freshmen, Johnston and McClain, who combined for 22 points, a possible dynamic duo in the near future.
It was not just the freshmen who showed up to play, though. Dolan showed effort and hustle throughout the game, rallying the team at its low points and going full throttle for all four quarters.
Unfortunately, with all of their effort, the Jr. Bills gave up 27 points in the fourth quarter and lost the game, giving Urbana the consolation tournament championship.
As far as the defensive side of the ball goes, foul trouble plagued the Bills once again, and they managed to up their game in the foul department by committing two technical fouls.
“We thought we had it,” junior Demarcus Bond said. “We got ahead of ourselves and we weren’t competing. Competing has been a big thing for us all year and something we really have worked on individually.”
SLUH closed out the break by hosting their MCC rivals, Chaminade, in a usually close battle. SLUH started off strong shutting down the Chaminade offense on the three point game in the first half. The Achilles heel was transition defense. Bond stood out as a major leader in this game, something the younger stars have been searching for. As the third quarter came around, the fatigue of the Jr. Bills began to kick in and the point differential grew to 15. The strong first half defensive performance was not enough to stop the explosive Chaminade offense.
“In those games that we won, we really took care of the ball and played good defense all 32 minutes which helped us come to some good wins. Hopefully we can build off of that for the rest of the season,” said Kane.
CBC 17 13 26 14 70
SLUH 7 5 9 6 27
(0-7): Johnston 11, Lang 7, FG 10, FT 2-4.
Cardinal Ritter 27 9 28 6 70
SLUH 7 6 12 7 32
SLUH (0-8): Johnston 13, Wallace Hughes 9, FG 12, FT 6-12.
DuBourg 12 10 7 11 40
SLUH 8 24 5 12 49 SLUH (1-8): Johnston 18, Lang 10, Bond 10, FG 16, FT 8-12.
Burroughs 5 12 11 8 36
SLUH 17 16 3 16 52
SLUH (2-8): McClain 22, Wallace Hughes 7, FG 15, FT 15-23.
Urbana 7 7 13 27 54
SLUH 9 13 11 12 45
SLUH (2-9): Johnston 13, Wallace Hughes 8, McClain 9, FG 16, FT 10-14.
Chaminade 11 20 18 25 74
SLUH 12 14 8 16 50
SLUH (2-10): Johnston 14, Bond 9, Cooper 8, FG 19, FT 8-14.