The St. James boys basketball team (10-4) faced off against Newburg (10-6) in the consolation bracket of their home tournament on Thursday, Jan. 18. The Tigers got off to a hot start shooting the ball on their way to a 62-30 win.
Both teams came out of the gate playing strong defense, forcing each other into taking contested shots. After St. James got out to a slim 5-4 lead early in the first quarter, the Tigers kicked into the next gear. St. James went on an 8-0 run in the middle of the quarter and it wasn't because of lax defense from Newburg. The Tigers hit several shots with hands in their faces and were able to get a few turnovers to get the ball moving in transition. Bailey Terrill was huge for St. James in the quarter both on the boards and with his scoring. The senior scored eight points in the first and was backed up by threes from Ryan Harlan and Ivan Fuhring. St. James was able to get out of the quarter with a 15-8 lead.
The three ball continued to play a role for St. James in the second quarter, as Mason Parker and Ty Uffman each hit one early in the quarter. Uffman's three pushed the Tiger's lead to double figures for the first time with 5:12 left to play in the half. Ryan Terry was able to get Newburg back within single digits with four straight points, but the lead was quickly pushed back to double figures. Newburg spent most of the first half being very patient on the offensive end as they looked to get the best possible shot, but Newburg seemed to get a little more impatient as the St. James lead grew and they couldn't get shots to fall. St. James was able to stretch their lead out to 16 at the half, going into the break out in front 32-16.
St. James came out of the half and quickly put the game away for good. The Tigers held Newburg off the scoreboard for the first five minutes of the third quarter, while scoring 15 points of their own. Fuhring and Tyler Recker were unstoppable in the quarter, scoring 10 and nine points respectively. Newburg couldn't find a way to claw their way back into the game and went into the fourth quarter trialing 53-22.
The St. James lead floated around 30 points for the rest of the game, putting the turbo clock into effect for most of the quarter. The Tigers went on to finish off the game with a 62-30 win.
"I thought defensively we were really really good tonight and I thought they were pretty good defensively early, then we started to get into some cracks," said St. James head coach Ben Smith. "Really what sparked it was Bailey getting some offensive rebounds and put backs, keeping possessions alive and then we kind of got it rolling after that.
"Everything's easier when you're hitting shots," added Smith with a chuckle. "That's just the nature of the game."
Newburg head coach Logan Ray saw things the same way as Smith.
"That was the key right there, they hit shots early and when they didn't hit shots, they were rebounding pretty well," said the Newburg head coach. "I thought our defense was solid, we made them shoot a lot of contested shots, we just didn't rebound well enough in the second half to stay close. It would've helped if we shot the ball a little bit better too."
Fuhring was the only Tiger to score in all four quarters, leading all scorers with 20 points in the win. Terrill was second on the team in scoring with 14 points, 12 of which came in the first half. Terrill also led St. James on the boards with six one game after recording the Tiger's first double-double of the season against Waynesville. He also tied with Fuhring for the team lead in steals with four and tied Carter Keeney for the team high in assists with three. Recker added another 12 points for St. James in the win.
"I thought Ivan looked a lot more aggressive offensively tonight than he did on Tuesday," said coach Smith. "For us to be successful, we've gotta look for him to score. He's gotta put points on the board and he knows that. I think it was good to see him bounce back and get more aggressive."
One of the keys for St. James in the win was depth. The Tiger lineup runs pretty deep and Newburg just didn't have the bodies to keep up.
"I feel really comfortable with those eight guys at all times," said coach Smith. "They all have nice strengths and every one of them adds something when they come on the floor that maybe another guy doesn't have."
Ryan Terry was the only Newburg player to reach double figures in the loss with 10 points. Travis McWilliams and Tristan Wofford each added six.
This was a big win for St. James after losing a tough 64-61 game to Waynesville in the first round. He expected his team to bounce back and they did just that.
"These kids are tough kids, they don't like to lose. They were not happy obviously with losing, but they weren't real happy with how they played Tuesday," said coach Smith. "Every time we've had a game like that where we've been a little frustrated with how we've played, we bounced back. That's just kind of the nature of these kids. They're very competitive and they're very hard working. They wanna show their best every night."
Newburg played in the seventh place game against Salem on Friday, Jan. 19, but results were not available at press time. Coach Ray said his team is just working to find their shot again and focusing on the big picture. They'll head right back into conference play against Iberia when they finish the St. James Tournament.
"We're just thinking big picture right now. We'll be one of the top teams in our District and we've still got some tough conference teams that are playing really well.," said coach Ray. "We're thinking big picture, how can we improve the bench, how can our starters get better chemistry, how can we figure out ways to score the ball a little bit better. I think it'll come with time, it's just trying to keep everybody positive and on the same page."
As for St. James, they'll face off against Licking in the consolation championship on Saturday, Jan. 20.