Roosevelt Smart is new to the program at St. Viator though he was quickly accepted. He plays whatever role the Lions require.
On Friday night he was thrust into the part of the savior.
The junior guard and Palatine transfer scored 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second half as visiting No. 24 St. Viator withstood St. Patrick's furious rally for the 53-51 victory in East Suburban Catholic play Friday night.
The Lions' high powered attack watched a 12-point lead disappear as a result of turnovers and sluggish play. Smart recorded six of the Lions' seven second half field goals as the team struggled to find a consistent rhythm in the second half.
St. Viator coach Mike Howland was beside himself with disappointment. "We are a very bad basketball team right now," he said. "We are a very selfish team. We didn't play hard. We didn't compete.
"We got lucky."
St. Viator (19-5, 6-1) watched nervously as St. Patrick had a three-pointer from the left wing just catch the underside of the rim as the horn sounded to escape.
St. Patrick's best player, junior guard Nicholas Coleman, rimmed out a free throw with the Shamrocks down 52-50 with 9.7 seconds remaining. Coleman converted the second free throw for a one-point spread.
St. Viator senior forward Ore Aregundade also split two free throws with 5.4 seconds for the final margin.
Smart was the difference. He drilled a three-pointer that broke the game's final tie at 42 with 6:55 remaining. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter. He added five rebounds and four assists for the Lions (19-5, 6-1).
He also added a crucial rebound basket and an 18-footer for a 51-47 advantage with 1:55 to play.
Arogundade contributed 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots for St. Viator. Guards Patrick McNamara (11 points) and Mark Falotico (nine points) scored all their points in the first half as the Lions built a 35-23 lead late in the second quarter.
St. Viator nearly had as many turnovers (six) as third quarter points (seven). The team lost its three-point accuracy after halftime. St. Viator drilled six three-pointers in the first half, but went just 1-for-8 on three-pointers in the second half.
Coleman and junior forward Adrian Pierzchanowski (11 points) ignited the Shamrocks’ comeback. Coleman scored eight of his 15 points in the third quarter. His three-pointer from the right wing punctuated a 13-5 run that pulled the Shamrocks within 40-38.
Tahjman Davis scored 12 points and added nine rebounds for the Shamrocks (12-12, 1-6).
Howland initially said he failed to see a single redeeming quality in the Lions’ play but backtracked to praise Smart. “He’s the only one who was unselfish and who played as though he was concerned with winning,” Howland said.
“We have a lot of [talented] pieces but we haven’t put them together yet, and with just one week to go in the regular season, that’s not good. It’s on us to turn it around, because we can’t compete in the Lake Zurich [Class 4A] sectional playing like this.”