The St. James boys basketball team (10-9) traveled to Licking for a rematch of the fifth place game of the St. James tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The Tigers got into an early hole that they could never quite dig out of without their starting point guard in a 50-46 loss.
The St. James offense struggled to find their footing in the first half with Mason Parker sidelined, but were able to stay afloat early thanks to a couple of threes. Tyler Recker and Isaac Helterbrand each connected from long range in the opening quarter, but the Tigers still trailed 16-11 heading into the second.
The Tigers then went cold in the second, scoring just seven points. Andrew Branson led St. James by knocking down a three in the quarter. The Tigers were able to play lock down defense in the second, however, to keep the game within range. Licking scored seven points of their own in the quarter, but still went into the half with a 23-18 lead.
St. James continued their offensive struggles in the third, but they were able to knock down a trio of threes in the quarter to stay afloat. Drew Moritz connected on a pair from long range, while Branson hit one, but Licking was still able to expand their lead to 39-31 at the end of the third.
The Tigers made a late push with 15 points in the fourth, but they couldn't quite close the gap. Branson had seven points in the quarter, while Austin Ridenhour added another four. St. James held Licking to 11 points in the quarter, but couldn't complete the comeback in a 50-46 loss.
Branson led St. James with 20 points and five steals in the loss. Recker added eight points and three assists. Moritz chipped in with six points and a team-high three rebounds. Ridenhour had four, Helterbrand had two and Tate Whitener added two points and three assists.
The Tigers will look to bounce back when they return to their home court for a Four Rivers Conference game against Pacific on Friday, Feb. 1.