While he may have been kidding, St. Viator coach Mike Howland more than got the attention of his standout junior, Ore Arogundade.
“He kind of looked at us during a timeout and said Ore (Arogundade) doesn’t seem to be out there,” said Ore’s brother, Mayo Arogundade. “We all kind of laughed because we know when Ore gets going, we get going.”
Ore Arogundade got it going in the fourth quarter of the Warren regional against the sixth-seeded host Blue Devils — and true to form, his teammates followed suit.
After scoring just 11 points through three quarters, Ore Arogundade started finding the basket. He scored 9 of the first 11 points of the fourth quarter. His game-high 22-point effort, including the 11 fourth-quarter points, were a huge part of a crushing 22-4 burst from Viator that wrapped up a 65-53 win over the Blue Devils.
St. Viator (20-8) won its third regional title in four years and will make the trip to the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. against second seeded Zion-Benton, a 61-46 winner over No. 7 seed Fremd.
“We want regional titles to be the norm around St. Viator,” Howland said. “Now that we have gotten here . . . we got to this point last year, we want to push further and get over the next hump.”
Before the Lions could think about that next hurdle, they had to solve the tough zone defense from Warren (17-12).
“I think we were just waiting to be ourselves,” Howland added. “We hadn’t played as bad a quarter as we did in the third and yet we were still in the game. We just had to relax and have fun and we finally started to do that.”
Warren held a 37-34 lead into the final quarter, but it lasted all of 28 seconds. A steal and off-balance layup by Ore Arogundade turned into a 3-point play tying the game at 37-37 with 7:32 left.
“I think that was a huge turn of events at that point,” Warren coach Ryan Webber said. “They get the 3-point play and it seemed to give them a little more of a jump on us and we didn’t recover.”
Soon, it seemed like everyone from St. Viator was contributing. Senior Pat Martin hit a pair of long 3-pointers during the run and teammate Kevin Hammarlund added a long 3 as well, putting the Lions in control. Martin scored 6 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter while Hammarlund hit for 9 of his 17 during the 31-point fourth quarter outburst.
“(Warren) plays a real tough zone and we tried to exploit it every way we could,” Ore Arogundade said. “Once we got a couple of run outs, then Pat hit a 3 and Kevin did, too, and we just started rolling.”
Warren, which had won sectional titles the last two years, got a hot first half from senior Aarias Austin and a hot second half from junior Adrian Deere. Austin scored 14 of his co-game high 16 points in the first half but couldn’t get started in the second half. Deere scored 12 of his 16 in the second half.
“I’m just really proud of our kids,” Webber said. “I thought we really played hard. I thought our kids really battled and I am really proud of the season we had and this group of seniors.”