Lions’ pride: Loughlin duo leads squad to overtime victory

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Big players make big plays.

Bishop Loughlin stars Keith Williams and Markquis Nowell didn’t blink when the moment got big on Jan. 15 — they simply embraced it. The pair led the Lions to a 66–62 overtime victory over Christ the King, hitting big shots and making shutdown defensive plays when the team needed it most.

“Right now, I think Markquis and I are the best backcourt in the whole league, the country, everything,” said Williams, who finished with 25 points. “If me and Markquis are on the same page, we’re unstoppable.”

The Lions weren’t perfect during regulation — struggling to hit free throws and match their usual on-court intensity — but Loughlin (11–3, 5–2) did enough to hold on in the waning minutes of the Catholic League matchup. The defense held strong on Christ the King’s final possession of regulation — forcing Tyson Walker into a final-second turnover — and Loughlin was confident heading into overtime.

“We’ve got veteran players, and I trust that they’ll make good decisions,” said Lions coach Edwin Gonzalez. “I have confidence in these guys and what they’re going to do.”

Nowell, in particular, was impressive down the stretch. The junior point guard scored nine of his 22 points in the extra three minutes of play, matching Royals star Jose Alvarado shot for shot.

“The [first shot] felt good because Keith gave me the ball and I just knew, if I got it and got open, I was going to shoot it and it was going to go in,” Nowell said. “I was literally trying to do as much as I could.”

Williams hit his own big-time three-pointer in overtime as well, draining a jumper with just under a minute left on the clock to put Loughlin up by three. It was a lead the Lions wouldn’t surrender.

“[Teams] are going to try and play us aggressively, but it’s just about being mentally strong,” Williams said. “We just had to step up.”

Nowell’s jumpshot was on target throughout overtime, but his biggest play came on the defensive side of the ball. He forced a turnover with just seconds left on the clock, keeping the ball out of Alvarado’s hands with Christ the King down two.

Nowell drew a foul on the play and wrapped up Loughlin’s victory with a pair from the free throw line.

“I knew [Alvarado] was going to come down with it and I didn’t want to bail him out with a foul,” Nowell said. “So I waited until he came down and I knew he was going to go right, so I tipped it out of his hand.”

It’s a big-time bounceback for the Lions, particularly after coming up short at St. Raymond’s on Jan. 13, and wrapped up an eight-day stretch that was nothing short of exhausting for the squad. Loughlin played five games in just over a week, but the team walked away feeling confident — certain its leaders proved just how talented this roster is.

“There is no let up and they know that,” Gonzalez said. “I can’t say enough about them. They were up for the challenge, and that shows who they are and their character.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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