SOUTH HOLLAND | The television cameras might have been attracted to Seton Academy's gym on Friday night by the debut of Tom Kleinschmidt as a coach in Catholic League competition, but the stars of the show turned out to be the Sting.
Their fast-break attack appeared as sharp as ever in a 57-44 rout of the Rams in the conference opener for each squad, and the Sting's home opener. Seton ran off to a 27-10 lead at the half and was never challenged.
That was a big difference from the Sting's experience in the Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament, where they went 2-3.
"This week of practice really helped us," said Mark Weems Jr., who led Seton with 20 points and 10 rebounds. "We just got much better on our defense."
At Lincoln, the Sting gave up about 70 points a game. Holding the Rams, a team with promise, to 10 in the first quarter and 26 through three quarters, was a considerable improvement.
"There, we didn't play defense," Seton coach Brandon Thomas said. "So the focus in practice this week was not just playing defense, but getting stops."
Those came in bunches. The Rams turned the ball over a dozen times and shot as if the basket was in motion.
"It's good as a coach to see the team respond like that," Thomas said.
It wasn't all Weems for Seton (3-3, 1-0). He was aided by fellow guard Kamal Shasi (15 points, 7 rebounds) and solid defensive showings from forwards Johnny Patterson and Alex Foster, who combined for 13 points.
Gordon Tech (3-1) was paced by Jerry Davis (14 points). Raequan Williams, whose muscle inside should aid the Rams in the brawny Catholic League, added 13.
For Seton, the question is if this squad can emulate last year's, which advanced to the Class AA semifinals before bowing out. Weems, a key cog in that adventure, would like to think so, but doesn't want to think of March in November.
"We're taking it game-by-game," Weems said.
As is Thomas.
"That's a question the season will answer," Thomas said. "We're definitely talented and have veteran leadership."
That combination can go a long way.