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Harrison Niego’s scoring allows Lyons to fend off St. Viator

St. Viator and Lyons traded scoring surges in a game of runs, but Harrison Niego’s steady play and excellent shooting helped Lyons stand strong.

The senior point guard scored 20 points and senior swingman Jaquan Phipps added 15 as No. 19 Lyons fought off multiple St. Viator comeback attempts to earn a 65-57 win in the first game of the 18th annual High School Hoops Showdown at Hinsdale Central on Saturday.

The first quarter featured back-and-forth action, resulting in a 14-14 tie. Phipps scored three-straight buckets for Lyons (15-4), the second of which gave Lyons a 10-9 lead. Senior St. Viator guard Pat McNamara scored on a couple of smooth jumpers.

But after Niego and McNamara traded 3-pointers to start the second quarter, Niego converted a steal into a layup to make it 23-17 Lyons with less than five minutes to go. From there the tandem of Niego and Phipps went to work, personally outscoring St. Viator 16-6 in the quarter, leading to a 36-20 halftime lead.

St. Viator then went on an 8-0 run to close the gap to 36-28. McNamara hit two 3-pointers and scored nine points in the quarter, and senior guard Ricky Muench added two 3-pointers as St. Viator clawed back to get as close as 42-39 with around two minutes to go in the third.

“We knew they weren’t going to let up,” said Niego. “They have some good players and they hit shots.”

Lyons coach Tom Sloan agreed: “Basketball is a streaky game, but we handled theirs and were able to hold them.”

Lyons controlled the paint, limiting St. Viator’s opportunities and playing a patient offense to get good shots. Connor Niego, the 6-8 sophomore, contributed at the top of the Lyons zone in disrupting St. Viator’s offensive flow at the end of the first half.

Lyons then answered the call with a 6-0 run to end the quarter before St. Viator junior guard Jake Stepuzek hit one free throw to make it 48-40 after three quarters.

St. Viator (11-6) started the fourth with 3-pointers by Muench and junior guard Danny Walsh to make it 48-46. That’s as close as St. Viator would get.

Senior guard Joe Brunner added 12 points, followed by Connor Niego with nine. St. Viator was led by McNamara with 22 points, including five 3-pointers.