CHICAGO • It was a tale of four quarters Saturday morning for the Chaminade basketball team.
Unfortunately for the Red Devils, only one of those quarters went their way.
Chaminade’s furious third-quarter rally was not enough as it dropped its season opener 91-87 to Bloomington High in the Chicago Elite Classic at Wintrust Arena.
“It’s our first game, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” said Chaminade junior Luke Kasubke, who finished with 25 points. “I don’t think we played how we can play. We just gotta get back to work in practice, and we’ll be all right.”
It was a big stage on which to begin the year. Chaminade, the No. 2-ranked large school in in the STLhighschoolsports.com preseason rankings, was coming off a run to the Class 5 state championship game last year.
Bloomington, meanwhile, featured a number of players that had caught the interest of the college scouts in attendance, including SIU Carbondale signee Chris Payton.
The Purple Raiders (6-0) controlled both the pace and the scoreboard early, extending their lead to 46-36 late in the second quarter.
The Red Devils didn’t take long to complete their comeback. By the end of the third quarter, they had turned the deficit into a 71-62 lead. They were paced in the quarter by 11 points from senior Keyyaun Batchman, who finished with a game-high 32 points.
“I’d said some things at halftime,” Chaminade head coach Frank Bennett said. “It boiled down to us doing what we try to do consistently: Get back in transition, limit their transition opportunities, not lose focus on matchups and such, and really try to play together on the defensive end.
“Then, I think at the top of the fourth, a couple minutes in is when we started to unravel a bit.”
Bloomington turned up the pressure on defense, and the Red Devils had a difficult time adjusting as their final period was marred by turnovers and foul trouble. Payton also stole the spotlight in the fourth quarter, at one point scoring 11 consecutive points for the Purple Raiders.
Bloomington tied the score at 77-77 with 4:48 to play. The teams traded baskets down the stretch before the Purple Raiders pulled away in the final minute.
“At the end of the day, when you’re trying to win a ball game, in the fourth quarter, shot selection is key,” Bennett said. “I don’t think we took the best shots, which allowed them to get going in transition.”
According to Bloomington head coach Michael Mosley, it was a game-long strategy that paid off in the end.
“Normally we’re a pressure team,” Mosley said. “We were without one of our strong seniors defensively, so I didn’t want to turn on the pressure until late, and coming into that third quarter, we just wanted to space them out and find our shooters, because we knew they were focused on Chris (Payton).”
Despite the loss, it was only the first game of the season, against a strong opponent. The Red Devils understand Saturday’s defeat won't tell the tale of the rest of their season, or cause them to adjust their primary goal coming into the season.
“Win state,” Batchman said. “That’s everyone’s goal. The players’ goal, coaches’ goal, fans’ goal, that’s all of ours’ goal. To win state.”