Photo by Aaron FitzPatrick
Marist senior Tom Englehart (wearing No. 55) directs the Marist student section Friday night at Benet.
The Marist boys and girls basketball teams both wore their game faces last night as they swept league rival, Benet, on the road in Lisle in key East Suburban Catholic Conference league games.
And their student section wore their game jerseys. The high-energy fans represented over 20 different teams from five sports while still loudly representing their beloved RedHawks as the girls came up with a RedHawks 64-45 win over the two time Class 4A champion Redwings while the boys followed suit with a 49-45 win.
The spirited student section donned local staples such as the Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and their own Marist jerseys. They wore popular college jerseys such as Duke and Kentucky. And they even showed a bit of sports sophistication with some creative throwback jersey’s like a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar UCLA jersey. While Lew Alcindor would have been more accurate, the sentiment was there. There was even a form fitting Marist wrestling jersey on display.
“We’ve done a lot of things in the past. We figured a ‘Jersey Theme Night’ where you just rep whatever your favorite team or sport is. Just something simple,” said Marist senior Tom Englehart. “It’s not too hard to pick out your favorite jersey, wear it to a game and cheer on the (teams).”
He led the raucous bunch in a variety of chants and cheers throughout the night and even led the gang in some halftime stretches to stay loose for the rest of the night.
“We’ve got a repertoire of different cheers to go with so we’ve always got something cooking,” said Englehart.
The RedHawks had plenty of whatever Englehart and the Marist students were cooking.
The girls game gave coach Mary Pat Connolly a rare road win against the two-time defending state champs. Abby Callahan had 17 points for Marist and Julia Ruzevich had 13.
“We haven’t had a win against Benet in maybe four years and we haven’t had a win here in I don’t know how many and I’ve been here for all 15 of them,” said Connolly.
The win kept Marist at the top of the ESCC with a 4-0 record and after a tough 55-54 loss to North Lawndale at the Kenwood Shootout, the RedHawks entered this week’s action with a 21-4 overall mark.
“We played really, really well,” she after the Benet win. “We stepped up our defense to another level.Everybody that was on the floor made key shots. We shot well. We had balanced scoring. I couldn’t be more proud of these girls. From beginning to end, I thought we fought really really hard.”
The student section needed to cook something with a little more spice for the boys game and the RedHawks needed every bit of it with their tight win in the nightcap.
The RedHawks were coming off of their first loss of the season after 19 straight wins three days prior with an overtime setback at Brother Rice. RedHawks fans were eager to see how the team would respond with another tough road game.
“It was a great win to get back on our feet,” said RedHawk guard, Morgan Taylor. “Some guys were a little down after that (Brother Rice) game but we had to come to practice, work hard and really focus on this one.”
Taylor said practices leading up to the Benet game started sluggish but they quickly got the cobwebs out of their heads to focus on the Redwings.
After Marist led by as much as nine, Benet cut the lead to two points with 40 seconds left. It was time for a gut check and the RedHawks responded. Taylor made four of six free throw attempts down the stretch including a big one with 17 seconds left to keep Marist’s advantage at four points.
“We just had to stay confident,” said Taylor. “We just had to play our game and keep up with ourselves.”
Maurice Commander led the RedHawks with 14 points.
After Friday night, Marist, St. Patrick and St. Viator were on top of the ESCC with 4-0 marks. For those looking ahead, Marist will host St. Viator Feb. 10 and St. Patrick Feb. 17.