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A check of the records indicated Lemont would have its way with nonconference visitor Joliet Catholic.
Yet with three minutes and 16 seconds left Tuesday night, there were the Hilltoppers, back within 52-45.
With senior forward Martynas Einikis doing the heavy work, the Indians scored the next 11 points en route to a 63-47 victory. But it was a result that left positive vibes on both sides.
“We’re working toward getting back to where we’re firing on all five pistons, and we moved closer to that tonight,” Lemont coach Rick Runaas said.
“The guys did all you could ask,” Joliet Catholic coach Joe Gura said. “Their great player [senior guard Juozas Balciunas] is going to get his. But we played well against their bigs and we got great looks. The reason we shot well [53.6 percent] is we had open looks instead of shots under distress.”
Balciunas scored 14 points in the third quarter and led all scorers with 25, and Einikis contributed 14 for Lemont (15-2), which shot .590 from the floor. The senior forward, who has been a sometimes starter, was a welcome addition after missing last Friday’s Argo game with an ankle injury.
“I was feeling good the whole game,” Einikis said. “I was glad to be back. We have to get back to the way we were playing before we lost to Richards.”
Lemont also was without senior forward and captain Jack Shereck, who has an ankle injury. “He’ll be out for a while,” Runaas said. “We’ve got a bad case of ankle-itis.”
Senior forward Ryan Peter scorched the Indians with 21 points for Joliet Catholic (4-17), including 6-of-8 shooting from three-point range. Runaas had to applaud the NBA three Peter hit to end the third quarter.
“How could I be upset with Jake [Terrazas, Peter’s defender at the time]?” Runaas asked. “That kid shot the ball well. I have to believe we tired him out by the end with Jake and Marty [Einikis] switching on him.”
“I didn’t realize they had that good of a shooter” Einikis said. “But I guess we eventually shut him down.”