Marist’s Stephen Brown finishes with a dunk in the RedHawks’ 49-44 overtime win over St. Laurence on Dec. 1. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Marist’s Stephen Brown finishes with a dunk in the RedHawks’ 49-44 overtime win over St. Laurence on Dec. 1. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Basketball | Marist unbeaten heading into clash with Marian Catholic

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By Xavier Sanchez
Correspondent

Four quarters were not enough time to determine a winner between Marist and St. Laurence in a Chicago Elite Classic matchup.

The RedHawks prevailed, doubling up the Vikings in overtime to take home a 49-44 win and improve to 6-0.

The game was played December 1 at Credit Union 1 Arena at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Both teams struggled to get any type of offense going in the first quarter, combining to go 5-of-21 from the field. The second quarter was much of the same, and the RedHawks held a 17-10 lead at the end of the first half.

St. Laurence heated up in the third quarter, shooting 5-of-7, but Marist led 30-25 heading into the fourth quarter.

The RedHawks opened up the fourth quarter with a quick basket that gave them a nine-point lead — their biggest of the night — but the Vikings answered back with a 12-0 run kickstarted by a Josh Pickett layup, followed by a steal and another layup.

Marist led 39-37 lead with under a minute to go, but two-made free throws from Josh Pickett evened the score and forced overtime.

The RedHawks took a two-point lead when Adoni Vassilakis drove to the basket for a layup, and Stephen Brown made a steal and breakaway dunk to extend the lead 43-39.

Marist (7-0, 2-0 East Suburban Catholic) refused to let the game slip away after blowing their fourth-quarter lead.

“We have a lot of trust in each other and trust is one thing you need,” Brown said. “Especially in a game that is super close and goes into overtime. Trusting in each other and believing in what we do is how we stay together.”

The RedHawks saw their first real test this season in the Vikings. Marist won each of its first five games by double digits, including a 40-point win over Eisenhower and a 59-point pounding of Shepard.

They followed the win over St. Laurence by defeating Saint Viator, 56-43, on Dec. 5 to remain unbeaten heading into their matchup against Marian Catholic on Friday, Dec. 8.

Marist StL 1 scaled

Marist’s 49-44 win over St. Laurence marked the first time this season the RedHawks did not beat an opponent by at least 10 points. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

“This was the first time we faced adversity this season,” said RedHawks coach Brian Hynes. “It is a big learning lesson for us. When adversity hits, we must come together and not come apart.”

St. Laurence’s Josh Pickett led all scorers with 18 points (6-14 FG, 6-8 FT) to go with nine rebounds and a steal.

Marist guard Darshawn Thomas finished with 15 points (7-15 FG) and eight rebounds. TJ Tate was the only other Redhawk in double figures with 10 points. Vassilakis had nine points and Brown had nine points (4-7 FG) and three blocks.

The Vikings entered this week 2-4, with two of their losses coming from out-of-state teams Hoover (Alabama) and Dale (Oklahoma). They won 21 games and a Class 3A regional title last season.

St. Laurence returned starters Zerrick Johnson, Caleb Lindsay and Khalil Jones, as well as Ryan Seddon. They picked up Pickett, Bradley Stratton, Gabe Mobley and James Jones.

Pickett, who has committed to playing at Denver, believes this is just the beginning for the Vikings.

“As a team, we are just scratching the surface of our potential,” he said. “Our goals are very high — like going down to state, winning the Catholic League, and all these major things. Over time, people will see that those goals are going to become a reality.”

“We are going to keep building, and keep staying in the lab, and good things will happen. Time will tell.”

Marist has come out hot to start the season in Hynes’ third year leading the team. The RedHawks are relatively inexperienced but returned starters Brown, Vassilakis and Marquis Vance.

Hynes stresses the importance of becoming a family.

“I don’t worry about the wins and losses,” he said. “I want these kids to learn, be a part of something bigger than themselves, and when that happens, the wins take care of themselves.”

Vassilakis agrees.

“We played like a family,” he said. “I think that is what it is all about. If we stay together through hard times, like today, we can be the best team in the state.”

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