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Boys Basketball | St. Laurence looks to keep good times rolling in 2023

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By Steve Millar
Correspondent

A young St. Laurence team is hitting its stride and starting to believe.

The Vikings took momentum into the New Year by winning four straight games at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic to capture the tournament’s consolation championship.

“It was a pretty big boost getting those four wins,” sophomore guard Zerrick Johnson said. “We came in hot.”

St. Laurence kept it going last week, pulling off a 64-61 victory on the road over Homewood-Flossmoor for its fifth consecutive victory.

EJ Mosley poured in 23 points to lead the visiting Vikings (13-5 entering this week). Johnson had 16 points and six rebounds, while Khalil Jones finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

In a battle of teams with the same nickname, it was H-F’s Vikings (8-7) who seemingly took control with a big third quarter, opening a 48-42 lead.

St. Laurence trailed 54-49 with four minutes to go but countered with a 9-0 run as Jones scored six points and Mosley hit a big 3-pointer.

“We had to stay together,” Mosley said. “Even when things get tough, if we stay together we can overcome tough situations.”

Mosley added a big 3-point play with 34 seconds left to put St. Laurence ahead 63-58. The Vikings held on as H-F missed two chances to tie the game on 3-pointers in the final seconds.

With five sophomores in their starting lineup, the Vikings’ youth has shown in some close games in the past. Now, they’re figuring out how to come away from them with victories.

“We have to keep going through games like this and eventually they’ll learn how to win,” St. Laurence coach Byron Burt said. “I’m starting to see that change. They’re definitely learning how to win. This was ugly, but I’m happy that we were able to fight out a win.”

Johnson was struggling connect on his shot early in the game but scored 12 points in the second half. His 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter gave St. Laurence a spark.

Johnson made sure to find ways to contribute even when his shots weren’t falling.

“I’m just focused on being that X-factor for my team and doing things that we don’t got, like rebounding, being that defensive guy,” Johnson said. “Scoring isn’t really my concern right now. It’s just doing all the other things that we’re lacking.”

Mosley, meanwhile, took over down the stretch with 10 fourth-quarter points.

“EJ’s mindset is different this season,” Burt said. “His focus is much better and his preparation before games. He’s finishing around the basket better. You can definitely see the development. It’s fun to watch.”

Jacob Rice chipped in six points, while Caleb Lindsey provided five points and five rebounds for St. Laurence.

St. Laurence is optimistic big things are ahead.

“I think everybody’s excited,” Burt said. “They’re ready to play every game. I think they want to keep this winning streak going. The energy’s great and they know they can win. I think that’s the first step.

“Now we’ve got some tough Catholic League games ahead and hopefully we’ll be ready to keep this going.”

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