Boys Basketball: Notre Dame pulls away from Marist
By Michael O’Brien email@example.com December 7, 2012 11:26PM
Lexus Williams of Marist sprints down the court with Notre Dame's Donte Stephenson playing heavy defense. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:23AM
Marist coach Gene Nolan isn’t under any illusions about his team this season.
“(Rebounding) is an issue for us and it’s not going to go away,” Nolan said. “We are challenged in that area.”
Rebounds, as well as a focused and senior-laden Notre Dame squad, proved too much for No. 3 Marist to handle in a 65-51 loss.
Rebounding was supposed to be the domain of 6-5 Nic Weishar, but the star football player will miss most of the season because of a shoulder injury.
“(Rebounding) is going to have to be everybody’s job,” Nolan said. “Size is an issue for us.”
This early in the season, even the most elite teams are struggling to define roles and get in a proper offensive and defensive rhythm.
Notre Dame is a step ahead. The Dons have a rock-solid group of seniors in the starting five with Air Force recruit Matt Mooney, Donte Stephenson, Eddie Serrano, Justin Halloran and Jake Maestranzi. Duante Stephens, a strong 6-3 junior, is the “sixth starter.” All six have clearly defined roles.
“(Coach Tom Les) always says we have to play our roles,” Mooney said. “Don’t try to do too much, that’s when you look bad.”
The RedHawks (4-1, 0-1 East Suburban Catholic) were right in the game at halftime, trailing by just two points. Guards L.J. McIntosh (23 points) and Lexus Williams (7 points, 9 rebounds) were hot from outside.
But the Dons (7-1, 1-0) steamrolled through the third quarter, with each starter doing what he does best. Mooney was all over the court, Maestranzi was running the show, Halloran (14 points, 5 rebounds) was draining threes, Stephenson (13 points) was driving the baseline and Serrano (8 rebounds) was grabbing boards.
The Dons outrebounded Marist by just a 29-25 margin, but the extra points off offensive rebounds killed the RedHawks.
Mooney, the team’s best all-around player, scored 20 points in a variety of ways. He drained threes, hit turnaround jumpers and, most important, cleaned up a lot of his own misses for scores. Mooney finished with eight rebounds.
“They have kids that can shoot it and kids that know there roles,” Nolan said. “Notre Dame is a very good team. But I liked my team this morning and I like them now.”