Boys basketball: Kyle Lipke registers double-double as Providence drops Morris

Celtics senior scores 15 points, pulls down 11 rebounds

NEW LENOX – “We don’t really like them,” Providence Catholic center Kyle Lipke said of Morris, the Celtics’ opponent Thursday night. “We came out here to win.”

Nobody in Morris is going to send a Christmas card to any of the Celtics, Lipke especially, next December. Providence bounced back from an early deficit to score a 63-51 victory in the nonconference matchup.

Lipke, a 6-foot-6 senior, was noticeable from start to finish, scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, four on the offensive glass. Morris had no answer for him, or the Celtics generally. Providence enjoyed a 31-15 rebound edge.

“We worked as a unit on the defensive end,” Lipke said. “And I was ready for tonight. My teammates had my back.”

“We knew we had an advantage with Kyle on the court, and some other guys like Max Clarke, Tyler Cucio, guys like that, around the rim,” Celtics coach Tim Trendel said. “They’re grinders, and you need guys like that. It’s a nice makeup for the team, a big guy and some grinders who can block out.”

Morris coach Joe Blumberg rued his team’s rebounding and wasn’t pleased with its shooting, either. Morris was 1 of 5 in the second quarter and 2 of 9 in the third, when the Celtics built a 15-point advantage.

“Only taking five shots, they amped up their pressure and intensity and took us out of what we were trying to run,” Blumberg said. “We didn’t make free throws, and rebounds killed us.”

The key to Providence was controlling Jack Wheeler. The 6-foot-5 senior forward scored Morris’ first 11 points and looked to be unstoppable. Morris led 12-7 five minutes in. Then Wheeler got as cold as last week’s weather, courtesy of the Providence defense.

“Jack scored the first 11, and that’s great, but sometimes we become too reliant on him, and other guys stand around,” Blumberg said.

Wheeler finished with 20 points, complemented mostly by Caston Norris’ 10. All-state candidate A.J. Zweeres was held scoreless in limited action.

The Celtics, beyond Lipke’s contribution, got a team-high 17 from Seth Chaney and 11 from Zach Ford, the second man off the bench. Chaney also had five rebounds and a steal.

“That’s the emphasis every day,” Chaney said of rebounding. “We’ve got to finish plays. Rebounds, steals, whatever it is. We scouted Wheeler this week, knew he could shoot, and he proved that to us early. Then we put an emphasis on him not touching the ball.”

Morris (11-10) has an arduous schedule coming up, with three more road games in succession beginning with Saturday’s game at Sycamore. One more win, however, and Blumberg’s battlers will surpass last season’s win total.

“Hey, these are the adversity-testers,” Blumberg said of the schedule. “I don’t look much at the numbers. Are we playing better than our talent level? I don’t know.”

Providence (9-11) plays Eisenhower in a nonconference game Saturday before plunging back into Catholic League waters. Trendel said he hopes to make up Tuesday’s game against Hinsdale South, which was canceled, so South’s players could attend a school board meeting to support their then-suspended head coach.

Tim Cronin for Shaw Local

Tim Cronin is a contributing reporter to Shaw Local, focused on covering high school sports in the Will County area