Boys Basketball: St Joseph holds off EvanstonWestchester, 01/14/12--St. Joseph's Jawaan Toney looks for a teammate as Evanston's John Kountoures grabs at the ball. St. Joseph HS hosted Evanston HS in boys basketball Friday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2012 11:36PM
St. Joseph senior Reggie Johnson did a little bit of everything to help his team build a large early lead Saturday.
He saved his biggest play for late, however.
The 6-foot-1 guard blocked Evanston star Josh Irving’s potential game-tying three-point attempt with 15 seconds remaining to preserve the Chargers’ 63-61 nonconference victory in Westchester.
“That was the best out of everything I did,” Johnson said of his clutch block. “If I didn’t do anything until that and got that block shot I would’ve been happy because (Irving) hit a couple in a row in the fourth quarter. He was hot and I knew if he got it to the rim, it had a shot at getting it in, so I had to get a hand on it.”
After the block, Avery Harmon was fouled and hit 1-of-2 free throws to put St. Joseph (10-6) ahead 63-59 with 11 seconds left. Mike Munro scored at the buzzer for the Wildkits, but it wasn’t enough.
St. Joseph turned in an impressive first quarter performance, connecting on 10 of 15 shots to grab a 27-13 advantage. Johnson, who had 19 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds, contributed nine points, four assists and two steals in the opening quarter.
Evanston (12-5), behind Irving, didn’t go away.
The Wildkits trailed 51-49 at halftime, but pulled within 51-49 heading into the fourth quarter and tied the game at 59-59 on a pair of free throws by Irving with 4:11 remaining. St. Joseph scored the next four points to jump ahead 63-59 and held on down the stretch.
“It’s always hard,” Johnson said. “When you build a lead you know the other team is going to make a run and that’s when you have to pick it up to another level. They had nothing to lose and came out in the second half on fire and got back in the game.”
Irving finished with 28 points, including six three-pointers, but missed his final four shots.
“I thought Reggie did a really good job on Irving, especially in the last quarter,” St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore said. “He was not letting him get the ball easily.”
Jordan Perrin added 16 points in the loss, while the Chargers also received key contributions from Karriem Simmons (13 points, 7 rebounds), Paul Turner (11 points, 3 rebounds), A.J. Patty (5 points, 8 rebounds), Harmon (7 points) and Michael Brooks (6 points).
St. Joseph was coming off a tough loss to area-ranked St. Ignatius Friday night.
“We blew a seven-point lead (Friday) night,” Pingatore said. “We led the whole game and lose it in the last couple minutes. That would’ve been a huge win against a ranked team. We did it again tonight, we self destructed. We have to get smarter.”