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Short-handed St. Patrick buckles down defensively to beat rival Notre Dame

“Chi-town beatdown, Chi-town beatdown,” the St. Patrick student section cheered in delirious joy at the large Notre Dame student section across the court. 

St. Patrick’s Bryant Handley (23) takes the ball to the basket over Notre Dame’s Jace Fletcher (33) and Luke Heidersbach (4).
St. Patrick’s Bryant Handley (23) takes the ball to the basket over Notre Dame’s Jace Fletcher (33) and Luke Heidersbach (4).
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

“Chi-town beat down, Chi-town beat down,” the St. Patrick student section cheered in delirious joy at the large Notre Dame student section across the court.

The kids from Belmont Ave. made the trip to Niles on Friday and came away with an unlikely 47-33 victory.

The teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Shamrocks were missing star senior Timaris Brown for this game. He’s out for a week to ten days with a minor knee injury.

St. Patrick made up for Brown’s absence with defense and grit. Mike Bailey’s team forced Notre Dame into 18 turnovers and only allowed the Dons one basket in the final 4:20 of the game.

“We give up a lot of size to these guys but the key was our defense,” Bailey said.

The Shamrocks (6-3, 2-1 East Suburban Catholic) came out hot, shooting 5-for-7 from three-point range in the first quarter. St. Patrick was clearly not intimidated by the raucous crowd.

“I was telling all the younger guys and transfers that this was going to be a big game,” Shamrocks senior Sergio Rivera said. “You have to ignore the crowd totally, even our fans. You have to play your game and not listen to anyone.”

Rivera scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior Brandon Adorno, a transfer from Mather, scored nine points and senior Nico Soriano added nine points and four rebounds.

“This was an amazing experience,” Adorno said. “This is what I came to St. Pat’s for, to be able to play in games like this. It was just what I expected.”

The hot three-point shooting gave the Shamrocks a 17-7 lead after the first quarter. Notre Dame (6-4, 2-1) cut it to four points by halftime but opened the third quarter with a four-minute scoring drought.

“That start gave our kids confidence,” Bailey said. “When you run good offense and get good shots and don’t make them it is draining. So that was huge.”

Junior Sonny Williams led Notre Dame with 12 points and senior Luke Heidersbach scored 12 off the bench. Sefan Cicic, a 6-10 sophomore, grabbed six rebounds but didn’t score. The Dons were 7 of 30 from three-point range.

Notre Dame was surprised to see that Brown was in street clothes when they arrived.

“We had no idea he wasn’t playing,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. “We should never have a letdown, but when you game plan a certain way and they come out with five guards that kind of changes things in our mentality a little bit.”

The rivals could meet two more times this season now that the ESCC is playing a season-ending tournament.

“We’re relatively inexperienced,” Clancy said. “The hope is we can learn from this and move on. But credit goes to them. They competed their butts off and made plays and made shots and were really tough defensively and played a great game on our court.”

Watch the final minute of St. Patrick at Notre Dame: