Boys Basketball: Marist honors former teammate, top Brother RiceL.J. McIntosh, of Marist, dunks the ball against Brother Rice at Marist, Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 in Chicago, IL. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 17, 2012 10:08PM
Marist paid tribute to one of its own Tuesday night.
Paul Simmons, who died suddenly last April during his senior season, was honored during a pre-game ceremony that included his mother and father.
The RedHawks then honored their teammate in the best way possible, by exhibiting the traits that made him such an admired student-athlete — energy, strength and skill — to dispose of arch-rival Brother Rice 75-69.
“We owed it to Paul and his spirit to get this win tonight,” said Marist senior Morris McGuire, who attended grade school at St. Margaret of Scotland with Simmons. “He played every game with a lot of energy. He was a great friend and great teammate. This was his night.”
Marist was poised to blow Brother Rice out of the gym a handful of times.
To the Crusaders’ credit, they answered the bell each time.
The RedHawks (15-4) started strong, opening up a 10-2 lead before the overflow crowd could settle into its seats. Marist’s lead grew to as many as 11 before Rice cut the gap to 29-28 late in the second quarter.
Marist built its lead back up to 56-43 with 7:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, only to see Rice close to within 69-64 with 45.6 seconds remaining.
“Rice answered everything,” Marist coach Gene Nolan said. “Every time I thought we would make a run, they came back.”
Marist flaunted its balanced scoring attack, with all five starters reaching double digits. L.J. McIntosh led the way with 18 points, followed by Tyler Oden (14), Lexus Williams (14), Nic Weishar (13) and Matt O’Reilly (13). Marist finished connecting on 27-of-52 field goal attempts.
McIntosh had the play of the night, ending the third quarter with a baseline jam off a Weishar feed that gave Marist a 51-43 and silenced the Crusader Crazies for a brief spell.
Rice received a monster performance from junior Alex Majewski, who finished with 27 points before fouling out late. Garrett O’Neill added 15 and Jim Barista nine for the Crusaders (11-6), who saw their three-game winning streak against Marist come to an end. Rice was 29-of-60 from the field.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Nolan said. “To win this game on Paul Simmons Night is a credit to this team.”