By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

St. Viator,Aldana shock top-ranked Notre Dame

N.D still clinches ESCC title share


Last updated 3/6/2021 at 6:16pm

Friday, March 13, 2020.

Almost one year ago to the day, the Notre Dame Dons and the St.Viator Lions were to meet in the IHSA Class 3A Grayslake North Sectional championship game. Sadly, the day before the State government in Springfield decided to close Illinois' schools to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With their decree, they shattered the hopes and dreams of many Illinois student-athletes

On that day, "The Original March Madness" died.

Friday, March 5, 2021.

In Arlington Heights on Friday night, the underclassman for both Notre Dame and St. Viator who were not able to participate in that in 2020, took to the court in an East Suburban Catholic Conference game.

As they were almost one year earlier, Notre Dame entered the game as the Associated Press' Illinois Class 3A State Boys Basketball Rankings No.1 school.

Behind sophomore guard Eli Aidana, St.Viator (5-2, 4-2) erased an 11-point deficit in the last five minutes of the game and shocked the top-ranked Dons 47-46.

With Notre Dame (12-2, 7-1) leading 46-45, Aidana, who scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter hit a runner to the basket for two, gave the Lions a 47-46 lead with five seconds remaining

Notre Dame in-bounded the ball to senior Louis Lesmond (12 points). Lesmond drove the length of the court and his last-second shot clanged off the back rim. The entire St. Viator Lions team poured on the court and swarmed around their hero Aidana

With 5:32 remaining in regulation, Dons' senior Anthony Sayles' (12 points) coast-to-coast bucket gave Notre Dame a seemingly insurmountable 43-32 lead.

St. Viator senior Aidan Harrington (11 points) and Aidana, however, connected beyond the arc to cut the Dons lead to 43-38 with 3:38 left. Notre Dame's Frank Lynch (five points) split a pair of free throws for a 44-38 lead with 2:30 left.

St. Viator's 6-foot-6 Connor Benson's (10 points) old-fashioned three-point play pulled the Lions to within 44-41 with 2:11 left.

Aidana split a pair of free throws and when Dons' sophomore Sonny Williams nailed a pair of clutch free-throws N.D led 46-42 with 50 seconds remaining.

Aidana buried his second three-point dagger of the fourth quarter. The Dons turned over the ball and Aidana's runner won it for St.Viator with five seconds left.

The Dons led 16-12 after one quarter.

Forcing seven Lions turnovers and holding St.Viator to six second-quarter points, the Dons led 26-18 at the break.

A pair of monster slams by Dons' senior Troy D'Amico (12 points, six assists) and Sayles highlighted the third quarter, where the Dons extended their lead to 38-29 after three quarters.

Notre Dame (12-2, 7-1), even with the loss, still clinched a share of the ESCC Championship.

St.Patrick (8-2, 6-2) handed Benet Academy (7-3, 5-2) its second ESCC loss of the season to clinch the title tie for the Dons.

A win at Marian Catholic (6-5, 6-2) on Tuesday and the Dons will be outright ESCC champs.

"That's how it goes in this league (ESCC)," Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy said. "We didn't finish the game and St. Viator totally out-played us in the last five minutes."


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