By Kyle Williams
The start of the season hasn’t gone as planned for the St. Ignatius boys basketball team, including a 46-33 loss to Chaminade (Mo). on Saturday, December 4.
The Wolfpack — the No. 4 team in the Sun-Times preseason rankings — now stand at 3-4 with losses to Leo, Lake Forest, Chaminade and Loyola over their last five games overall.
The game was a tale of two halves for St. Ignatius at the Chicago Elite Classic.
The Wolfpack’s defensive prowess was on display in the first, as they held the St. Louis powerhouse to 17 points and 28 percent shooting from the field. Both teams were locked in defensively, closing out on shooters hard and making sound rotations.
“I was really proud of our defense overall,” St. Ignatius coach Matt Monroe said. “That’s the best we’ve played defensively, and that’s been an area of focus of ours.”
The St. Ignatius’ offense dried up in the second half; the team went 4-for-18 from the field in the third and fourth quarters. The Wolfpack couldn’t overcome 15 points from Chaminade junior guard Nillivan-Jothan Daniels.
“We got a lot better just during that game,” Monroe said. “And now we’re certainly not satisfied with moral victories or anything like that, but we saw a lot of improvement from our guys in a multitude of ways, especially on the defensive end.”
The best offense for the Wolfpack in the second half came courtesy of senior guard A.J. Redd, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds, and two assists. Redd is a creative driver when attacking the basket, capable of contorting his body mid-air to account for a contest at the rim.
“My main strength is getting to the rim and attacking off the dribble,” Redd said.
“I missed a couple — it’s tough in the arena shooting. After that, I decided to cut, get to the rim. And then you saw I got to the free-throw line a couple of times to get me going.”
Redd uses his quickness to help set up his teammates for easy shots. Once his defender is on his hip, Redd surveys the court for his teammates after he draws in the defense.
“When I see they’re pressing up on me, I might try to make a quick move and get past them, put them on my hip,” Redd said. “That’s when I’m looking for my teammates, and that’s when we get the defense moving.”
The Wolfpack are hoping to use the early season skid to prepare them for conference play and postseason. Their difficult schedule was by design. They know that the team they are now isn’t indicative of the team they can be in March. It’s just about stringing together complete games.
“We just got to keep putting it together and being … more consistent offensively,” Monroe said. “We just got a little stagnant. We became a little drive-centric and didn’t move the ball as well as we did in the first half.”