The Mask: Behind diZerega, Seabury earns gritty win over Veritas

Bishop Seabury sophomore Henry Nelson (4) sets up the offense for the Seahawks in Friday's game against Veritas at Dillon Gymnasium.

Bishop Seabury boys basketball coach Jonathan Raney wasn’t sure what to expect from his lone senior Thomas diZerega against crosstown rival Veritas on Senior Night.

A nose injury suffered in Thursday’s practice put diZerega’s status in question before Friday night’s contest.

“His nose got really swollen,” Raney said. “We thought he broke his nose.”

But diZerega wasn’t going to miss the final home game of his high school career. He suited up for the Seahawks, and he donned a protective face mask in front of a deafening home crowd at Dillon Gymnasium that gave him a roaring ovation during starting lineup introductions.

And diZerega didn’t disappoint. He went on to score a team-high 12 points in Seabury’s gritty, 48-44 win over Veritas on Friday.

“I’m so proud of Thomas,” Raney said. “Being able to send him out right on Senior Night means a lot to me, means a lot to the guys, and we just found a way.”

The Seahawks had to overcome a night in which they shot only 20 of 65 (30 percent) from the floor.

“I’m going to be honest, I have no idea how we scored 48 points,” Raney said with a laugh. “I have no idea, because it wasn’t pretty by any means.”

Seabury (10-8) can point to its defense, which had high intensity and played physical on Veritas’ offense for most of the game. The Eagles shot only 18 of 54 (33 percent) from the floor and committed 16 turnovers.

Veritas (12-10) took a 30-29 lead into halftime but scored only 14 points in the second half.

“We knew we had to win the 50-50 battles in the second half and I think (Seabury) won every 50-50 battle, every loose ball,” said Veritas coach Carl Huslig. “But our kids played their hearts out, and tonight, shots just didn’t go in.”

After facing a deficit as large as seven in the fourth quarter, the Eagles tried to shoot themselves back into the game from 3-point range. But Veritas made only 1 of 11 3-point attempts, with the lone make coming from Quinton Donahoe.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” Huslig said. “We knew that in the second half, if we let their crowd get into it, it was going to be a hard game. But sometimes shots just don’t go in, and that’s what happened tonight.”

On the other side, diZerega, wearing a mask for the first time, was able to shoot an efficient 5 of 11 from the floor. However, he still thought his offense was hindered from the mask.

“My offense was a little bit off, just because of the mask, it sort of messed up my vision on the outside of my periphery a little bit,” said diZerega, who also grabbed eight rebounds. “But I was able to still find my guys with the ball and let them get it done. And I was able to be a presence on the glass, especially in the fourth quarter when we needed those rebounds.”

Most importantly for diZerega, his Seabury team walked away with the win after falling to Veritas earlier in the season.

“Everybody gave it everything they had, sacrificing their body, sacrificing everything they had to play 32 minutes of really strong basketball against a good team,” diZerega said. “We were able to come out with the win, and that means everything to me.”

Bishop Seabury (48)

Stavian Jones 1-4 0-2 3, JD Cronley 2-3 0-0 4, Henry Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas diZerega 5-11 2-2 12, Zach Bloch 3-13 0-0 8, Sam Bayless 0-0 0-0 0, Chris Green 3-10 2-3 8, Cobe Green 3-16 1-3 7, Luke Hornberger 3-7 0-2 6, Jett French 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-65 5-12 48.

Veritas (44)

Quinton Donahoe 4-12 0-0 11, Trey Huslig 2-11 0-2 4, Jackson Rau 1-3 1-2 3, Will Rau 1-2 0-0 2, Kammal Dowdell 1-7 1-2 4, Grant Schuck 1-5 0-0 3, Scott Weinhold 0-0 0-0 0, Tucker Flory 7-13 1-2 15, Kyle Weinhold 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-54 3-8 44.

Seabury 19 10 9 10–48

Veritas 17 13 7 7–44

Three-point goals: Seabury 3-18 (Bloch 2, Jones); Veritas 5-26 (Donahoe 3, Dowdell, Schuck). Fouled out: None. Turnovers: Veritas 16, Seabury 10.