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O’Brien: St. Viator uses “Clarksville” to beat Joliet Catholic

The Cahill Crazies, St. Viator’s rowdy student section, calls the corner spots on the three-point line “Clarksville” in honor of junior Marc Clark.

“Actually my dad came up with it,” Clark said. “When we used to play in the parking lot I would just knock it down from there.”

That’s how it went on Thursday in Arlington Heights. Clark came off the bench and drained three key three-pointers to help St. Viator beat No. 25 Joliet Catholic 52-50.

“[Clark] was huge,” St. Viator senior Danny Walsh said. “We need that spark off the bench. We were a little cold and he hit one three early and then two in the second half. It was all huge to keep our momentum going.”

Clark finished with 12 points. Walsh led the Lions (15-4, 4-1 East Suburban Catholic) with 16 points.

“[Clark] stayed ready the whole game and gave us great minutes, not only scoring but defensively as well,” St. Viator coach Quin Hayes said. “He was the catalyst in that little run we had to get us the lead back.”

Baskets were at a premium throughout the game, which made Clark’s three-pointers take on added importance, each one rocked the game.

“It feels awesome,” Clark said. “The crowd is behind you, you look at your parents and everybody. It feels great.”

The Lions led by eight points with just 40 seconds left. Joliet Catholic worked its way back into the game after St. Viator missed some crucial free-throws.

“It’s frustrating right now, 100 percent mental,” Hayes said. “We have good shooters, it is just in their head a little bit. I’m hoping we work through it and it pays off in March and we can convert them when we need those free-throws.”

St. Viator held Joliet Catholic’s leading scorer, senior Jalen Jackson, to just 11 points. He was 3-for-14 shooting.

“We’ve been game-planning all week,” Walsh said.”[Miles McDonnell and Kevin Murphy] did a heck of a job sticking with him. We knew he was going to have to come off of screens so we needed team defense.”

The Lions have been on a roll since the holidays, only losing to Benet.

“Free throws cost us in that one,” Hayes said. “We are on a good run right now. We’ve had some good games against some very talented players this year, holding them below their average. Jackson is one heck of a basketball player. He ended up with 11, that’s a credit to the players and what they did defensively.”

Jared Lenoir scored 11 points for the Hilltoppers (16-4, 3-3) and Pete Ragen added eight points and a game-high eight rebounds.

The Hilltoppers are on pace for their best season in about 30 years. Their schedule to start the year wasn’t very challenging, but a victory over Notre Dame last week opened plenty of eyes. They’ve won 12 of their last 14 games.