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Holding on: Loughlin boys hoops escapes with slim win in opener

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It wasn’t quite a roar of victory, but Bishop Loughlin’s boys basketball team notched its first win of the season with a slim 95–87 showing over All Hallows on Dec. 2.

The Lions were pleased with the score, but knew there was still plenty to work on, particularly on the defensive end.

“We didn’t play our best basketball today,” said Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez. “We didn’t do well on defense today.”

Bishop Loughlin (1–0) led wire-to-wire, but the Lions’ comfortable cushion turned into a tight, five-point lead with just under a minute left on the clock. Turnovers were a particular problem in the backcourt as the Lions guards tried to push tempo.

“I’ve got to limit my turnovers,” said junior Markquis Nowell. “And I’ve got to play better defense.”

Nowell was electric on the offensive side of the court, despite his self-criticism, and he led his team with 33 points on the night, including a pair of three-pointers and a massive dunk early in the game that had the entire crowd on its feet.

“I wanted to be aggressive. I wanted to set the tone,” Nowell said.

Gonzalez, however, was frustrated by Nowell’s defensive struggles down the stretch.

“There’s no doubt he can score the ball — we all know that. There’s no doubt he’s a very good player,” the Lions coach said. “I’m not worried about that. What I’m worried about is his defense. He’s got to get better defensively, and also he’s got to run the team a little bit more efficiently.”

Nowell wasn’t the only Bishop Loughlin standout to put up big numbers in the season-opener. Senior guard Keith Williams — who committed to the University of Cincinnati earlier this year — racked up 26 points, including a pair of highlight-worthy dunks of his own. The soon-to-be Bearcat regularly out-muscled his opponents in the paint, drawing fouls and hauling in rebounds.

Despite the big numbers on offense, it was the lack of efficiency and consistent defensive pressure that kept the game close throughout the night.

Bishop Loughlin jumped out to a 19–14 lead after the first quarter and padded that cushion throughout the second. Nowell led the charge, highlighting an 11-point run with a high-arcing, mid-range jumper in the first half. All Hallows (0–1) refused to go down without a fight, however, coming out strong in the third quarter and matching the Lions throughout the second half. It wasn’t pretty down the stretch, bordering close to nerve-wracking, but the Lions are confident they can turn their defense around. After all, that was only game one.

“We gave up a lot of points,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve got to take better pride in our defense and move on from here.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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