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Boys Basketball: Marist stays unbeaten through two weeks

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By Steve Millar
Correspondent

Marist came into the season with some question marks after losing a pair of key players to transfers and elevating several newcomers, including three freshmen, to the varsity roster.

The young RedHawks are, however, off to a blazing 6-0 start. They held on for a 57-55 win on the road Nov. 30 against St. Laurence.

“I’m surprised at how well they get along,” Marist coach Brian Hynes said of his players. “We’ve got great kids. This is the first time the freshmen played in front of a big crowd on the road. They met the test.

“Then to have senior leadership, it’s like big-brother-type stuff. It’s an easy mix.”

Senior guards Mason Ross and Kaden White scored 13 points each for Marist. Sophomore forward Marquis Vance added eight points and six rebounds.

EJ Mosley scored 19 points and Jacob Rice finished with 18 points for St. Laurence.

Ross broke a 55-55 tie, hitting a runner in the lane with 30 seconds left to give the RedHawks the lead.

On the Vikings’ final possession, Zerrick Johnson (eight points, six rebounds) tried to drive to the basket but was guarded tightly by Marist freshman Adoni Vassilakis. Johnson’s off-balance shot was off the mark and the RedHawks held on.

“Mason doesn’t shy away from anything, in practice or in games,” White said of Ross’ go-ahead shot. “He’s always playing hard, trying to get to the basket. He always puts the team first ahead of himself, which is the most important thing.”

Marist fought back from a 51-44 fourth-quarter deficit. White hit a pair of big 3-pointers to spark the rally.

“It was big,” White said. “My teammates and coaches instill confidence in me and I knew we were going to win.”

St. Laurence struggled down the stretch after Mosley left with around four minutes left. He said he was dealing with cramping in his leg.

“We’ve just got to stay together, even though we made mistakes down the stretch,” Mosley said. “I got hurt, but other people have to step up.”

Marist followed the big win up with another victory Friday night, topping Joliet Catholic 67-58 in its East Suburban Catholic Conference opener to improve to 6-0.

Senior guard Justin Lang scored 19 points, Vance had 13 points and freshman forward Stephen Brown added 10 points.

White has been thrilled with how his team has come together.

“This team is probably one of the easiest teams I’ve ever had to click with,” he said. “The young guys want to learn and we all love each other. That makes it easy to play on the court together.”

St. Laurence, meanwhile, bounced back Friday with a big 52-38 win over DePaul Prep in a Catholic League crossover.

Mosley, Rice, Johnson and Khalil Jones all finished with 11 points each in the win for the Vikings (4-2). All four are sophomores.

“I think our potential is very high,” Mosley said. “We’ve been sticking together the past couple years, playing AAU together. I think we’re a team that can make it to state in the next couple years.”

Brother Rice
The Crusaders (7-0) stayed perfect under new coach Conte Stamas with an 81-47 win over Morgan Park on Nov. 29, a 59-26 victory over Montini on Dec. 2 and a 72-48 win over St. Francis de Sales on Dec. 3.

In the win over Morgan Park, Niagara recruit Ahmad Henderson led the way with 18 points. Cale Cosme scored 12 points off the bench, Zavier Fitch added 11 points and seven rebounds, Tre Dowdell scored 10 points and Khalil Ross contributed nine points and eight rebounds.

The Crusaders showed off their depth.

“I like how together we are,” Henderson said. “We’re such a tight group right now and I’m loving our energy.”

Henderson said there have been a few bumps along the process of adjusting to a new system under Stamas, but the results have certainly looked good so far.

“It hasn’t been all rainbows but we’re getting used to it,” Henderson said. “We’re getting better every game and every practice and we’re going to keep getting better and learning from each other.”

The Crusaders came out clicking Tuesday, racing to a 23-7 first-quarter lead behind nine points from Henderson.

Morgan Park fought back within 40-28 at halftime, but Brother Rice pulled away for good with a 22-7 edge in the third.

“It’s an adjustment period because we’re playing differently than they’re used to,” Stamas said. “The terminology is different. The way we’re playing defensively is different. Not that it’s better. It’s just different. So, they have to adjust. We’re trying to build this team defensively and offensively for the end of the year.

“We have to keep getting better every day. We didn’t have a summer together. We still have a long ways to go to get to where we want to be.”

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