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Cavaliers' balance, defense best Hart, St. Bede

In front of a large and boisterous crowd at A.J. Sellett Gymnasium, the La Salle-Peru Cavaliers used strong defense and a balanced scoring attack to defeat the crosstown-rival St. Bede Bruins by a final count of 72-57.
L-P offset a big 28-point scoring effort by the Bruins’ Paul Hart with solid defense and more balanced scoring, led by Tyler Hartman’s 15 points and 12 points each from John Riva and Alex Lenkaitis.
“I am both happy and sad about it,” said Lenkaitis, “glad we got the win but it’s always a fun atmosphere and fun to play against guys that you see all the time and grew up with. I’ll miss this night because it always is big in the community and it’s definitely special.”
Though he was happy with the way his Cavaliers played, coach Jim Cherveny has bigger goals,
“When you have a bunch of young players it’s a process and it takes time to grow into their roles and the last couple games with the close win at Streator and the win tonight it is coming together at the right time. Games like this are bug ones and the kids get up for them and both of the last two games gave us great experience with the close one Saturday and then the big energetic crowd tonight it’s good experience. We are going to have the same type of thing going Saturday with Ottawa hear and the kids got a feeling of what the electricity that this crowd can generate.”
“It’s always a great atmosphere and the kids love it; both crowds were loud and into it,” said St. Bede coach Brian Hansen. “Even though we didn’t have the result we wanted, this game is going to help us as we go into tournament time; with the loud crowd we needed to use hand signals too communicate and the kids had to make more decisions on their own and that is all going to help us come post season.”
The Cavs jumped out to a 5-0 lead as Michael Jereb hit a 3-ball and Tyler Hartman a lay-up before Hart started his big night with a trey of his own. After a Luke Story layup to tie it, he also added the next five on a layup and an old-fashioned three-point play. Jereb followed with another 3 and L-P opened a 13-5 bulge on its way to a 16-9 lead at the quarter.
The second half saw John Riva get the first of his points with a driving layup. The Bruins answered with four Hart free tosses, but Hartman continue his big effort with a layup off a nice pass from Jack Scheri to put the home team up by a 22-13 score.
L-P increased its lead when both Hartman and Riva would hit mid-range jumpers only to have Hart and Kaden Monterastelli knock down hoops to cut the lead to seven. The Bruins inched closer on a Nathan Pottoff trey, but Riva struck again with a lay up and L-P pushed the lead to 30-22 with two minutes to play in the half. The Cavs closed the quarter strong on a pair of Lenkaitis free throws and a manufactured three-point play by Drake Weber. The hosts went to the locker rooms with a 41-29 advantage.
In the third period, Lenkaitis quickly added to the lead, turning a steal into a three-point play, Lenkaitis credited his teammates with his recent scoring increase,
“Everybody is really looking for that extra pass,” Lenkaitis said, “and on defense we have each other’s back and we talk about always out hustling the other team and winning the 50-50 balls. The effort is paying off now and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Weber extended the Cavs advantage with a long 3 and suddenly the lead had ballooned to 47-29.
The Bruins clawed their way back with a Hart lay-up and a one from Potthoff off a Braden Damerell no-look pass and that looked to be the start a run, but Lenkaitis again came up big.
His long 3-pointer made L-P’s lead was 50-33 with four minutes to go in the half. St. Bede surged again on a Story hoop and three points for Hart, but Hartman and Lenkaitis answered with a 3-ball each for a 57-38 lead after three.
The Bedans showed no quit and came out with the first four points of the fourth. However, L-P’s Jack Scheri threw the knockout punch with a long trey to put the Cavaliers up 18 with five to play.
“Tonight we really distributed the ball well and had a balanced attack,” Cherveny said. “We are going about eight players deep and not having any fall off and that will be big as we go along. It’s big to have that kind of depth and experience if we get into foul trouble or need to rotate guys in, It’s a process and we are definitely getting better.”

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