The St. James basketball team earned their first win of the season on Wednesday, as they rolled past St. Clair 63-52. The victory puts St. James in the consolation final of the FCNB Bank It Championship in Sullivan.
After inconsistent scoring outside of Tyler Recker in the season opener on Monday, St. James got offense from across the board against St. Clair. Six different Tigers scored in the opening quarter. Austin Ridenhour and Andrew Branson each knocked down a three and scored five points in the opening frame, while Isaac Helterbrand added four. St. Clair managed to keep pace, but St. James ended the quarter with a 20-16 lead.
St. James started to break away in the second thanks to Moritz, who knocked down back to back threes early in the frame. The Tiger defense took care of the rest, holding St. Clair to just seven points in the quarter and St. James went into the halftime break with a 34-23 lead.
St. Clair wasn't going to go down without a fight and they clawed their way back into the game in the third. The Bulldogs scored 15 points in the quarter, while St. James went a little cold with just nine points. It was their only single digit quarter of the game.
After a down quarter in the third, St. James put an exclamation point on the game in the fourth. The Tigers scored 20 points to put the game away led by seven points form Branson. Logan Chick also knocked down a pair of threes off the bench to help seal the 63-52 win.
Branson led all scorers with 17 points in the win and nearly had a double-double with eight boards to go along with five assists. Ridenhour had 12 points for St. James, while adding five assists and a team-high four steals. Recker had 10 points, while Moritz and Chick each chipped in with eight. Mason Parker had two points, but led the team with eight assists in the win.
St. James did a great job of playing smart basketball, as they only turned the ball over four times in the game, while getting 12 steals.
"Good to get a win," said head coach Ben Smith. "The guys played with a lot of enthusiasm. They did a really nice job of rebounding and taking care of the basketball, giving us more opportunities to score."
The Tigers will now play Potosi for the consolation final on Friday, Nov. 30.