The St. James boys basketball team (7-3, 1-1 FRC) hosted New Haven for their first game of 2018. After two weeks off from games, the Tigers showed a little bit of rust out of the gate before cruising to a 74-57 win for their first conference victory of the season.
St. James took some time to get into the flow of things, going down 7-2 in the first four minutes of the contest. After a timeout, Bailey Terrill took over for St. James, scoring four straight points to cut the deficit to 7-6. New Haven went on another run late in the quarter, stretching their lead back out to five, but St. James managed to get within one by the end of the quarter.
"New Haven comes in and they run that real slowed down offense, that's just their style. They wanna grind it out and keep the game low scoring and I thought they did a good job in the first quarter of putting their pace on the game," said head coach Ben Smith after the game. "We really needed to get that tempo up and going and the only way we were gonna do that was by turning them over. We finally did that in the second quarter really well."
The Tigers kicked off the second quarter down 13-12, but they went on a tear after that. St. James picked up their defense and it paid dividends on the offensive end. The Tigers quickly jumped out in front before going on a 10-0 run in the middle of the quarter to lead 28-19. St. James kept pouring it on in the quarter on the back of eight points from Tyler Recker, seven from Ivan Fuhring and six from Ryan Harlan. New Haven hit two threes to keep the Tigers within range, but St. James went into the half with a 40-26 lead.
St. James opened the half by forcing turnovers on New Haven's first two possessions, scoring the first four points. New Haven recovered a bit early in the third, but the St. James lead never went under 10 points. The Tigers closed the quarter strong and put the Shamrocks away by stretching their lead out to 19 points at the end of the quarter.
The Tigers just needed to maintain their 57-38 lead going into the fourth and they did just that. New Haven got as close as 16 points down, but the lead was quickly stretched back out to 17. St. James brought the reserves in with just over two minutes left, which opened the door for Isaac Helterbrand and Dante Poole to score their first varsity points. Andrew Branson also got two points down the stretch, as the bench finished off a 74-57 win.
St. James had four players in double figures in the victory with Harlan and Recker leading the way with 16 a piece. Harlan also added a team high five steals and three assists. Fuhring chipped in with another 15 points, while Terrill scored 13 and added three steals. A total of 10 Tigers scored in the win. Carter Keeney led the team in rebounds with six, while adding four points, three assists and three steals.
Coach Smith saw Recker as a big spark for the Tigers off the bench that helped kickstart things.
"He's so explosive and he shoots the ball well. He's so strong and he jumps so well when he gets to the bucket," said the St. James head coach. "That's what we were talking about in the first quarter, I thought he was fading away on a couple of those shots that he took and I told him to just take it at em and he did. He went out there hard. I thought he had a really good second quarter."
This was an important game for St. James because they were able to knock a little of that rust off after taking two weeks off. They also got to play on their home floor for just the third time this season. They'll have two more games, both at home, before hosting the St. James tournament in a week.
"I thought we might be a little bit rusty tonight, but it's just nice to be home. It's only our third game here. It seems like we've been road warriors," said coach Smith. "All of that probably contributed to that first quarter."
The Tigers will host Cuba on Tuesday, Jan. 8 for their next contest.