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Walther Lutheran junior KC McNeil grabs a rebound Tuesday against St. Edward. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
Walther Lutheran’s Jon Fuqua and teammates needed one lecture about defense from coach Al Lainio on Tuesday at St. Edward in the first quarter, and then a refresher course in the third quarter.
They eventually got it right, as Fuqua scored 32 points and the Broncos outscored the Green Wave 32-12 over the last 12 minutes for a 75-54 Suburban Christian crossover victory.
“Coach was harping at us on defense, and me personally, I was lackadaisical on defense — I wasn’t moving my feet,” said Fuqua, a 6-foot-5 senior forward. “The rest of the team, we weren’t rebounding, we weren’t playing defense. We started making stops then and forcing turnovers.”
Lainio’s first timeout came just 5:40 into the game after the Green Wave assumed an 18-9 advantage.
The second timeout came halfway through the third quarter when St. Edward came out hard after halftime with a 12-4 run to get within 43-42.
“Usually when I call a timeout and we’re down it’s because of defense, and I was getting at those guys, saying you have to step it up, pick up the intensity and play some defense if we’re going to win some games,” Lainio said. “In the second half they got it down to one and we had to do it again. I guess maybe it’s my motivational speeches or something ... but it’s really just defense.”
Fuqua had 12 rebounds to go with his 32 points, and 10 Broncos scored in a fast-paced game that seemed to work against St. Edward.
“We knew what type of team they had coming in and I think our pressure got to them a little bit,” Lainio said. “We put the full-court press on and I don’t think they handled it very well.”
St. Edward (17-5) had its four-game winning streak snapped by the Broncos (10-10) despite 14 points from Adrian Ponce, 11 by Antonio Domel, and 10 each by Nick Duffy and Devontae Elam.
It wasn’t so much the large number of turnovers the Broncos forced, but the pace they played at when they got turnovers or rebounds that frustrated St. Edward.
The Broncos outscored St. Edward 20-8 in the fourth quarter and hit 23-of-43 shots the last three quarters, while outrebounding the Green Wave 40-25 for the game.
“We got to feeling our oats and just tried to run and they took it right away from us,” St. Edward coach P.J. White said. “We kept saying we don’t want to run, and we kept slowing it down. We said if we have an open layup, take it, but if we just get a rebound we don’t want to run down the floor.
“That was my fault for not being able to get it clear to them. When we (played slow) we played well. We didn’t and just got beat.”
Justin Mack had eight points and Najee Toomer seven for Walther Lutheran, which held the Green Wave to 3-for-12 shooting from the floor in the fourth quarter.