By Kyle Williams
Coming off of a tightly contested contest against Marian Catholic, Brother Rice leaned on its defense in a 55-44 win over Joliet West at the Team Rose Shootout.
The score was not indicative of how the Crusaders controlled the game from start to finish. Brother Rice isn’t the most physically imposing team, but its roster has length and was dialed in from the beginning of the contest. Joliet West only scored 15 points in the first half.
“I thought that defensively we were good for three quarters,” head coach Bobby Frasor said. “I thought we did a good job, especially in that second quarter, of extending the lead. A lot of them were on second-chance buckets.”
While the swarming defense carried Brother Rice in the first half, its size advantage paid dividends offensively at the start of the quarter.
“Once we realized we had a size difference and we’re not the most physically imposing team, good things happen,” Frasor said. “We had some specific calls to get Khalil [Ross] the ball low in the second half, and he got two and-ones in a row, and Ahmad [Henderson] fed him the ball in good spots.”
Junior Khalil Ross finished the game with 10 points and four rebounds. Junior Ahmad Henderson also had an impressive game. He’s a blur with the ball in his hands and can score from all three levels. Henderson’s primary matchup was against Joliet West point guard Jeremiah Fears. Fears is one of the best freshmen in the state.
“I was guarding Jeremiah Fears; he’s a good player and a tough guard, so I did the best I could on him,” Henderson said.
Henderson’s offensive game is tantalizing. He showcased his array of skills against the Joliet West Tigers.
“I had a lot of dribble pull-ups and worked off of ball screens,” Henderson said. “I love working off of ball screens. My mid-range and floaters, those are spots that I know I can get to.”
Henderson has played a key role for a young Crusaders team that has only two seniors on the roster and nine juniors.
“We’re 8-1,” Henderson said. “I’m the only returner from varsity last year, so a lot of these guys haven’t had varsity experience, so I’ve taken on more of a leadership role.”
Frasor has high hopes for the Crusaders, who already sport victories over Marist and Marian Catholic despite the inexperience.
“I’m excited, this is one of the more talented teams that I’ve had, and we’re all juniors too,” Frasor said. “Obviously, Ahmad is a really special talent with the ball in his hands. There’s a lot of good things that we can work with, and we have a lot more potential to reach. It’s going to be fun to see if we can achieve that.”