RACINE – You’d need a calculator to figure out how many shots Kamari McGee took this summer while working on his basketball game.
The St. Catherine’s High School freshman guard seemingly hit the court every day, spending countless hours on his long-range shooting.
“That was one area of my game, my shooting, where I’ve struggled in the past,’’ McGee said. “I took about 100 shots a day, at least.’’
The time and effort McGee invested on trying to become a better perimeter shooter paid off handsomely for him and St. Catherine’s boys’ basketball team on Tuesday night.
With McGee hitting some clutch 3-pointers, St. Catherine’s broke open a tight game in pulling away for a 55-43 victory over Racine Lutheran in a Metro Classic Conference game in the John F. McGuire Gymnasium.
McGee, who came off the bench, scored a game-high 14 points. The most important ones came in a four-minute stretch in the middle of the second half.
That’s when the 5-foot-11-inch McGee connected on back-to-back 3-pointers as the Angels (3-0, 1-0 MCC) moved from a 35-30 advantage to a 41-30 advantage with nine minutes remaining in the game.
“He really had a nice game,’’ St. Catherine’s coach Nick Bennett said of McGee. “He’s worked on his shot and it showed tonight.’’
While McGee provided the Angels with a much-needed scoring boost off the bench, he also made his presence felt defensively. His biggest defensive contribution, and by far the most entertaining one, came shortly after his pair of 3-pointers.
With the basketball going out of bounds along the sideline, McGee bolted for the loose ball and, after securing it with one hand while in the air, somehow managed to throw a pin-point, scoop pass to teammate and fellow freshman Tyrese Hunter streaking down the court for a lay-in.
“When I got the ball, I kind of hesitated in the air with it and looked for him,’’ McGee said of Hunter, who totaled 12 points in the game. “I’ve played a lot of basketball with Tyrese – since third grade – so I just knew he was leaking out.’’
McGee and Hunter weren’t the only underclassmen who played key roles for the Angels. Elijah Lambert, a 6-5 sophomore, also came off the bench and totaled nine points and six rebounds.
The Angels’ depth, Crusaders coach Jeff Christensen acknowledged, was a major difference in the outcome.
“He (Bennett) can rotate nine or 10 guys and wear us down,’’ said Christensen, whose team fell to 1-2 and 0-1. “Our bench isn’t very deep yet.’’
Despite the setback, Christensen was generally pleased with his team’s showing, particularly in the first half when, after three straight 3s by senior center Mason Wagner, the Crusaders moved to a 13-5 lead.
“I thought their defense was good, but I thought our defense was good, too,’’ said Christensen, whose team got 13 points from senior Brent Ogden, 11 from Wagner and nine from senior Ryan Hoover. “A lot of our guys played good.’’
Bennett fully expected nothing less from the Crusaders.
“I thought we played hard; I thought both teams played hard,’’ Bennett said. “But you knew they would. Coach Christensen always has his teams prepared no matter what (players) he has.’’
St. Catherine’s 55, Racine Lutheran 43
Woodward 1 0-0 2, Kraus 0 0-1 0, Wilks 1 0-0 3, Tenner 2 0-0 5, Wagner 4 0-0 11, Ogden 4 3-3 13, Hoover 3 2-3 9. Totals 15 5-7 43.
St. CATHERINE’S (3-0)
Cafferty 1 2-4 4, Lambert 4 1-1 9, McGee 4 2-2 14, Brown 2 0-0 4, Dodd 1 1-2 3, Hunter 4 1-2 10, Stephens 2 0-0 5, Jackson 0 0-0 0, Herrington 1 3-3 5, Sabala 0 1-2 1. Totals 19 11-16 55.
Halftime—St. Catherine’s 24, Lutheran 23. Total fouls—Lutheran 11, St. Catherine’s 12. Rebounds—Lutheran 27 (Tenner 9), St. Catherine’s 31 (Cafferty 12).