Brother Rice finds its offensive spark, beats Romeoville

Junior point guard Cale Cosme was inserted into Brother Rices’ starting lineup and helped lead a more balanced scoring effort on the way to a 68-49 win.

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Brother Rice’s Ahmad Henderson (11) heads toward the basket.

Brother Rice’s Ahmad Henderson (11) heads toward the basket.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Brother Rice has relied on star guard Ahmad Henderson to carry the load offensively this season. The Niagara recruit has regularly posted big scoring numbers.

That looks good in the highlights, but it was unrealistic to expect the No. 6 Crusaders to continue beating good teams with such a heavy weight on the shoulders of one player.

Brother Rice’s offense had a much different look on Tuesday against visiting Romeoville. Junior point guard Cale Cosme was inserted into the starting lineup and helped lead a more balanced scoring effort on the way to a 68-49 win.

Henderson and Cosme expertly picked apart Romeoville’s defense.

“Those two guards just ate us up,” Spartans coach Marc Howard said. “They were penetrating and making great decisions. They weren’t forcing shots. They were finding the open man, finding the slow rotations on our end and they just outplayed us.”

Henderson finished with 13 points. Senior Jimmy Navarrete also scored 13. Khalil Ross, a 6-7 senior, added 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for Brother Rice.

The Crusaders (10-1) took control with a 13-3 run in the second quarter and never looked back.

“They wanted it more than us,” Howard said. “And they were extremely unselfish.”

Junior Meyoh Swansey led Romeoville (7-3) with 19 points and senior Troy Cicero Jr. added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Brother Rice had a challenging lead-up to the season. Bobby Frasor stepped down as basketball coach on July 30 and veteran coach Conte Stamas was hired a month later.

“I knew that because I took over so late that the offense would take awhile and it finally started clicking today,” Stamas said. “We started moving without the ball and Cosme was a spark.”

This is the season Brother Rice had been building toward for a couple of years, so new coach or not, expectations were high from the start.

“It hasn’t all been rainbows but we are learning every day in practice and getting to know Coach Stamas,” Henderson said. “He wants us to succeed and he knows what he’s talking about.”

The early returns are very good. The Crusaders’ only loss was a close game to St. Rita. They’ve knocked off Bloom and Curie.

“I’m happy all the boys stayed,” Henderson said. “Last year we had a team full of juniors and now we are seniors and ready to make a run.”

Romeoville opened the season in the Super 25 and was expected to be one of the better teams in the suburbs. While the Spartans haven’t had a disappointing start to the season, they haven’t managed to win any of their three big games, losing to the Crusaders, Joliet West and Lemont.

It’s a big week for Romeoville, which faces a good Plainfield East team on the road Friday and then takes on No. 21 Hyde Park at Triton on Saturday.

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