Picking up his third and fourth foul in quick succession midway through the second half of the South Suburban Basketball League (SSBL)-North championship, Christ the King (CK) guard Aiden Henderson headed to the bench.
The Screaming Eagles held an 8-point lead against a never-say-die St. Cajetan squad, but the Warriors had gained the momentum.
However, CK had an answer down the stretch—in fact, several.
With Henderson on the bench, the Screaming Eagles responded with a big 14-3 run to take control for good on the way to an exciting 46-31 victory on March 11 over St. Cajetan at Marist High School.
CK finished the season with a 28-2 overall record, including winning both the SSBL and the Southside Catholic Conference (SCC), which also came against St. Cajetan.
“We’re used to it by now, stepping up in big moments,” said CK guard Peter Stanton. “I was out for a month, and [Quinn Muldoon] missed some time; so, we’re used to it. Our depth has been there all year.”
Scoring for CK were Muldoon (14 points, 12 rebounds), Stanton (13 points), Henderson (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals), Luke Cutrara (5 points, 3 assists) and Tommy Sheahan (3 points).
For St. Cajetan, Michael McLean had a huge day with 14 points, 12 rebounds and a block. Cullen Winters added 6 points and 5 rebounds for the Warriors.
A force in the paint for CK throughout the game, Muldoon scored on a variety of shots and putbacks in the lane.
“It means a lot for us to win both championships,” Muldoon said. “We were trying our best and working hard.”
As Henderson waited on the bench, Stanton scored a statement bucket on a fast-break drive to the hoop. Muldoon followed that with a putback basket.
After a Timmy Swanson free throw for St. Cajetan, Sheahan hit a timely 3-pointer from the wing off an assist from Cutrara, who had 3 assists as part of the run that included finding Stanton for back-to-back scores, one of them a corner 3-pointer that put CK up 38-21.
“We kept moving the ball around and kept getting easy shots,” Cutrara said. “That led us to keep pushing. You get a little nervous when Aiden goes out, but we moved the ball around and played as a team.”
Even from the bench, Henderson knew his teammates would embrace the spotlight. Returning to the court late in the game, he scored on a hard drive to the basket that extended CK’s lead to 42-29 with 2:19 remaining.
“It was really tough [sitting the bench], but I knew my teammates had the game on lock,” Henderson said. “I knew they were going to do that. It was nice to see, to be out of the game and see your teammates go to work.”
CK Coach Terry McGuire said the team’s depth has been key to the Screaming Eagles’ success all season.
“It’s ‘next man up.’ Tommy Sheahan was going to answer the call, and I knew he’d answer it well,” McGuire said. “Our depth has been huge. We had a number of games where we only had five players. Every single kid on that team stepped up and had big games. I believe every single guy had a double-digit game.”
The CK roster also includes Marius Adenso (9 rebounds, 2 blocks), Jack Wilson, Cooper Muldoon-Stetson, and assistant coaches Matt Cutrara, John Wilson and Hunter Holley.
St. Cajetan wrapped up an impressive eighth-grade season as runner-up in both the SCC and SSBL.
The Warriors roster includes Mikey Flynn (4 points, 4 rebounds), Swanson (3 points), Matthew Murzyn (3 points, 3 rebounds), Patrick Coakley, Bobby Flynn, Danny Leyden, Coach Mike Murzyn, Assistant Coach Bob Flynn and Assistant Coach Vince Winters.
Queen of Martyrs 41 (OT)
Marcus Harris delivered a dominant performance for Queen of Martyrs with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 4 steals in the SSBL-South eighth-grade championship.
The South is the A league.
Frank Garofalo (2 points, 4 rebounds) hit a jumper at the free-throw line off a pass from Dillon Tate (8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists) with 27 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 37 and send the game to overtime.
The Queen of Martyrs roster includes Conor O’Leary (2 points, 8 rebounds), Sean Eppenstein, Timmy Reidy (3 points), Ricky Sanchez (2 points), Dylan O’Leary, Ryan Hammelmann (2 points, 6 rebounds), Fabias Shipman, Coach Gary Hammelmann, Assistant Coach John McGuire and Assistant Coach Ricky Sanchez.
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