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Providence Catholic's #35, Kevin Kozan fights for a ball with Lemont's #35, Martynas Einikis, during their game at Providence Catholic in New Lenox, IL on Tuesday January 22, 2013. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Lemont showed how good of a basketball team it can be in Tuesday night’s 70-57 nonconference victory at Providence.
What might have been more impressive was how entertaining the Indians were.
Of course, the entertainment comes only after the dirty work is taken care of.
Lemont (18-2), which never trailed, outrebounded the Celtics (10-10), 10-4 in the first quarter and 20-12 in building a 35-26 halftime lead. Another Indians surge early in the third quarter made it 48-31 and for all practical purposes, it was over.
Not the fun, just the result.
“When we’re all passing the ball like we did tonight, when we play a team game, it’s all going to be fun,” said the ringleader, senior point guard Juozas Balciunas. “This is definitely as well as we have played in a while. We’ve been struggling the last couple weeks.”
Balciunas waged another round in his on-court feud with Providence senior point guard Kevin Kozan. The teams split two games last season, with Providence winning in the regional championship. This season, Lemont will play in Class 4A and Providence in 3A, so they will not meet in the postseason.
Balciunas finished with 23 points, hit 5-of-10 from three-point range and distributed a handful of nifty assists. Kozan scored 19 including a three from Mokena.
“He (Kozan) is a great player, and their whole team is good,” Balciunas said. “It’s a good rivalry.”
“Those two both are fun to watch,” Lemont coach Rick Runaas said. “They’re great ball handlers, they can shoot it, they play defense and they pass it.
“I’m not sure what they said, but they had a nice exchange after the game. And I told Kevin (Kozan), ‘I’m not going to miss you,’ and he kind of smiled. I think he knew.”
Balciunas is left-handed and Kozan right-handed, so “it’s like looking in the mirror when they face each other,” Runaas noted.
“They’ve have good battles now for three games,” Providence coach Tim Trendel said.
Senior forward Martynas Einikis, who played at Oak Lawn last season and is getting more comfortable in the Lemont system all the time, contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds, including eight in the first half. Mike Wisz scored 15 and Joe Hehir 11.
“I like when we play with the ball moving and we’re making shots, but we can’t run if we don’t have the ball,” Runaas said. “Marty (Einikis) and Jake (Terreazas) did a great job on the boards and with the physical things.”
Sophomore forward Miles Boykin had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Providence, which has dropped four straight.
“Lemont played well and our play didn’t help,” Trendel said. “We wanted to attack their pressure and instead we played passively. We talked about us dominating the boards and we could be in business. Instead, they did. That was their relentlessness and our passiveness.”