Photos by Jeff Vorva
Marist’s David Daniels winces as he shoulders a collision with high-flying Brother Rice sophomore Deandre Hagan in Tuesday’s 52-42 Marist victory.
Marist senior Jack Ellison couldn’t help but to laugh and he probably didn’t want to answer the question.
But who is a better expert to ask?
Ellison, who transferred from Chicago Christian before his senior year, has been involved in two of the fiercer rivalries area basketball teams play in as he had a taste of the Chicago Christian-Illiana Christian wars in the past. Tuesday night picked up his first experience in the legendary Brother Rice-Marist neighborhood battle, which was won by host Marist, 52-42, in front of an estimated crowd of 2,000.
So, when he was asked to compare the two rivalries he allowed himself a couple of chuckles before answering.
“Both are great,” he said. “But I think this is a lot better. There were way, way more people out there. My teammates told me to prepare myself for the fans. They talk so much and you have to block them out. This was amazing and I was glad to be a part of it.’’
Brother Rice (12-7) had a 25-23 halftime lead and Marist (18-1) shut the Crusaders down in the third period, allowing just two points and grabbed a 37-27 lead after three and Brother Rice couldn’t mount a comeback.
“We definitely rebounded better,” Ellison said of the third quarter. “Our guards helped with the rebounding. And I take pride in being able to clean it up. Our effort and intensity wasn’t where it should have been the first and second quarters. Coach (Gene Nolan) got after us at halftime and we got to it.’’
In the first half, it was the Marquise Kennedy/Morgan Taylor offensive show with Kennedy scoring 17 for Brother Rice while Taylor had 15.
In the third quarter, Marist’s zone helped give the Crusaders fits and Taylor did a bulk of the work quieting Kennedy down while the RedHawks took a double-digit lead.
Taylor is one of the top scorers in the south suburbs with 24 points per game and has not committed to a college. His defense in the third quarter should help his overall resume.
“They threw me in the middle and I take pride in my defense,” Taylor said. “He (Kennedy) got some points in the second half but I was able to slow him down a little. I’ve been trying to play better defense since I came to Marist and that’s been helping us win a lot of games.”
Taylor, who transferred from Brother Rice after his freshman year, finished with 25 points and Kennedy came up with 26.
It’s the ninth time Marist beat Brother Rice in the last 14 seasons. Since 1990, the teams have played 30 times and both teams won 15 games while Marist has outscored Rice, 1,768-1,759 in that span.
Despite the fact it lost some key weapons to graduation and transfers, Marist is having a huge season. Prior to Tuesday’s night’s game, the RedHawks beat Marian Catholic, 53-47, Thursday night in Chicago Heights to stay perfect in the East Suburban Catholic Conference at 3-0.
It was Marist’s first victory at Marian since 2012 and Taylor led the squad with 27 points and Ellison added 10.
Brother Rice has had its up and down moments but entered the Marist game winning six out of seven games, including a second-place finish in the 32-team York Tournament and Friday night’s 68-52 victory over Mt. Carmel. Kennedy had 16 points and Brendan Coghlan added 12 against the Caravan.
The two teams will be concentrating heavily on their conference schedules for the rest of the regular season.
Marist is tied with St. Viator for the East Suburban Catholic Conference lead and will host Benet Academy (2-1 in the league) on Friday. Marist, which is hoping to win its second straight ESCC title, will not play St. Viator until February.
Marist had never won a league title outright in the past and is trying to be the first team since Benet (2009-10 and 2010-11) to win back-to-back ESCC championships. The RedHawks were co-champs with St. Joseph in 1993-94 and 1995-96 and were co-champs with St. Viator in 1996-97.
Brother Rice is in the middle of the pack in the new Chicago Catholic League Blue conference with a 2-2 mark and Fenwick (4-0) in the lone unbeaten team in league play. The Crusaders resume conference action Friday night hosting De La Salle (1-2).