St. Viator coach Mike Howland didnt need to look at a scouting report to know how to stop state-ranked Marian Catholic.
Spartans junior point guard Tyler Ulis victimized the Lions for 37 points his freshman year, and 38 points last season.
On Friday night at Cahill Gymnasium, St. Viator held Ulis to 30 points and the Lions own junior star, Ore Arogundade was every bit as good in pouring in 27 points and leading the Lions to a 66-61 ESCC win.
The Lions (14-4, 4-1) remain within reach of first-place Benet.
Kevin Hammarlund, who scored 17 points of his own, face-guarded the 5-foot-9 Ulis for most of the night, trying to take him out of the action as much as he could.
It was tough, Hammarlund said of his defensive assignment. Hes the quickest kid in the state. He has all sorts of moves. We knew he was going to score, but we just had to contain him tonight. I think we did that for the most part.
We made him work, and thats what we talked about doing, Howland said. We wanted to make him a jump shooter and make him score over the top of us. Now, he did that plenty, but I was extremely happy with the effort we had on him.
St. Viator even went into a zone defense on a few possessions.
Anything to throw off Ulis, who shot 9-for-18 and finished with 6 steals.
They played me straight up and once I gave it up, they tried to not let me get it back, Ulis said. They packed their defense in.
Ulis had 24 points through three quarters and his fifth and final 3-pointer gave the Spartans a 44-42 lead going into the fourth.
Thats when Arogundade took over. The swingman scored the teams first 9 points of the fourth quarter on two layups, a midrange jumper and a 3-pointer for a 51-48 lead with 5:57 to play.
I wanted the ball, Arogundade said after hitting 10-of-14 from the field, including 3 dunks. I wanted to take over this game. When we needed buckets down the stretch, thats what I wanted to give my team.
After Marian Catholic (19-3, 2-2) reclaimed the lead, Hammarlund scored on a drive before hitting the biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Lions the lead for good at 56-53 with 2:48 remaining.
The Lions closed out the game at the foul line with Patrick Martin (10 points) and Mark Falotico (8 points) hitting big free throws down the stretch.
In all, Arogundade and Hammarlund combined for 34 of the teams 40 second half points.
Both those guys, their experience playing last year really helped them down the stretch, Howland said. They looked very calm and were just making tough drives to the hoop.