Article: Late Momentum Shift pushes NDCL past Padua
It was tight, just like any North Coast League game. Any time Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin or Padua went up a few points and gained some momentum, the counterpart answered with some baskets of their own.
That is, until Lions Senior Chris Shkil arose from the shadows.
Shkil, a 6'9" Forward, had made a couple big blocks to fuel some energy into the Lions early in the game. But it was a 3-pointer of his that the opposing Bruins will not soon forget.
NDCL led, 34-33, with 0.8 seconds in the 3rd Quarter when the Lions took the ball out of bounds. Shkil received the inbounds pass, and promptly sank his second three-ball of the night to increase the Lions lead, swing the momentum, and ultimately help NDCL to a 60-42 victory over the visiting Bruins.
"It was really big," said Shkil of the shot. "I think I got us going and we kept the momentum going in the 4th Quarter. We played good defense, got good shots, worked around, and played well as a team."
Shkil helped the Lions break away with a couple key baskets underneath and another mammoth block. Him and Junior John Cirillo formed a dynamic duo that troubled the Bruins all evening, as the two totalled 39 points.
With NDCL holding the momentum and controlling the tempo, Padua tried to keep getting opportunities by forcing the Lions to earn their points from the free throw stripe. The Lions easily solved that strategy, stepping up to sink 15 of 21 free throws in a final quarter that the home team won, 23-9.
"We've been struggling at the free throw line a little bit," said Shkil, who made his two shots at the line in the 4th. "Coach [Chris Poulos] has been working with us and really stressing it. It seems like it's really been paying off."
Padua kept it close for much of the game, but struggled to find their groove offensively. Forced shots and not being able to convert in transition plagued the Bruins, who made just eight field goals in the 2nd half.
"There was selfish play at times," said Padua Head Coach Jake Lantz. "They know what their capablities are and it's up to them to do it.
"Defensively, we played pretty well for three and a half quarters tonight. Offensively, we're a work in progress. Poor shot selection, no ball movement and guys standing around."
Shkil finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and three massive blocks for NDCL. Cirillo was all over the court for the Lions, tacking on 20 points with 10 rebounds along with a swat of his own. Daniel Sapp was also in double figures scoring with 12 points.
"The NCL is really competitive this year," said Shkil of the North Coast League, the conference both teams play in. "I think all of our losses are within five points or so. This win is really important. We have three league games left so hopefully we can keep the momentum going and finish .500 in the league."
On the contrast, Padua did not have a single player in double-digits scoring wise. Senior Chris Link led with nine points, while Tyler Ptacek had eight and Matt Milliken had seven. Scott Sechler pulled down five rebounds for the Bruins as well.
Padua falls to 4-11 on the season, 1-6 in the highly competitive North Coast League. Next up is a trip across town to battle the Invaders of Normandy on Saturday February 9th. The grind doesn't let up, as Padua hosts Archbishop Hoban on Monday and Elyria Catholic on Tuesday.
"That's the beauty about these back-to-back games," said Lantz, in his first year as head coach at Padua. "Truthfully, I love it. Let's lace them up and go. Normandy will come ready to play, so we're going to have to come out and match them."