CHICAGO | As time in the fourth quarter ticked away, the Crusader Crazies, Brother Rice's rambunctious fan club, became quieter and quieter.
Times No. 2 Seton Academy had applied the silencer. A 21-point run to break open a tie game can do that. The Sting's final-quarter outburst, led by Mark Weems Jr., was the difference in Seton's 61-48 victory over the Crusaders in Friday night's Catholic League South showdown.
"He's a closer," Seton coach Brandon Thomas said of Weems. "He scores in a lot of different ways for us."
Weems scored 16 of his 18 points in the final eight minutes, but the key was Seton (17-3, 7-0) holding Rice (11-8, 5-2) to six points in the quarter, all of them coming in the final 80 seconds. By then, the Sting had stung Rice with 21 straight points, with back-to-back baskets by Weems tying the game at 42 and then giving Seton the lead.
From that point, Rice's defense unraveled, and Seton's defense made sure players like Alex Majewski, who led Rice with 18 points, disappeared on offense. Rice shot 2-of-11 from the floor in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense was up on the ball, and we did a good job talking to each other and switching," Thomas said. "In the third quarter, we had done none of that."
That's how Rice barged back into the game after trailing 31-18 early in the third quarter. The Crusaders' 21-2 run to finish the third found Rice tying the game on Jim Barista's 3-pointer, then taking the lead on Ray Rubio's two free throws with 1.6 left in the period.
At that point, Thomas gathered his group and said, "Guys, we put ourself in this situation."
The situation was rectified in the fourth, giving Seton its second win of the week, with Farragut from the Public League's Red West looming on Sunday.
"This was the biggest one," Thomas said of the in-league encounter. "This puts us up two games on the league."
Seton led 29-18 at the half, the margin punctuated by Damien Evans' buzzer-beating 3-pointer. J.R. Tolliver scored 11 of his 18 points in the first half, and had the remainder in the third quarter. He was blanked in the fourth, but by then, Weems, whose only points before the final quarter came on a first quarter basket, had taken charge.