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In a back and forth battle on Friday night between East Suburban Catholic rivals St. Patrick and St. Viator, it was clear that whoever scored the last basket would be the team that walked away with the win. That ended up being the Shamrocks, and more specifically, Elijah Watson.
The senior guard scored on a backdoor layup and a free throw with 30.4 seconds remaining, the final points in a 58-55 win for St. Patrick (4-2, 1-0) that saw the teams exchange not only the lead, but also elbows. Watson finished the contest with a game-high 25 points, and also added seven rebounds and a pair of assists for good measure.
“Coach just told me to go out there and play, and if my shots fell, just keep taking them,” Watson said. “It means a lot to score that much, but the most important thing is we got the win.”
With the entire second-half played within a four-point margin, it was Watson’s ability to score all over the floor that made a difference. He started off the game hitting a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, sank some mid-range jumpers as the game went along, and finished off by attacking the basket, getting into the lane and going to the line.
“I think he’s a very underrated player,” Shamrocks head coach Mike Bailey said of Watson. “There’s a lot of good senior players this year, and I’m not saying he’s first-team all-state, but he’s a very, very good ESCC type player. Plays with toughness, competes, and does a lot of different things to help our team win.
Watson was helped in a major way by fellow guard Royale Ewing. The senior earned a flagrant foul for elbowing an opponent late in the first half, but responded well, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the game’s final 16 minutes.
St. Viator (5-1, 0-1) held a four-point lead with 4:28 remaining in the game, but scored just three points down the final stretch of the game. They were led by sophomore guard Matt Falotico’s 15 points.