The St. James boys basketball team (12-10, 1-3 FRC) opened their week with a pair of big games. They kicked things off with a 64-60 win over Steelville, which could play a role in District seeding in a few weeks, on Monday, Feb. 4. The Tigers ran out of gas the following night, however, struggling in the second half in a 59-45 Four Rivers Conference loss to St. Clair on Tuesday.
The Tigers had an up and down first half against Steelville on Monday. Offensively, they got out to a solid start with 16 points in the opening quarter on the back of five points from Andrew Branson and four points from Austin Ridenhour. They were able to slow down Steelville to the tune of 14 points to carry a lead into the second.
St. James had some issues arise in the second, as their offense dried up. Steelville was able to extend their lead out to six points late in the quarter, but a final push by the Tiger offense cut that gap to 27-25 going into the half. The Tigers managed just nine points in the second quarter, five of which came from Ridenhour.
After a slow second quarter, St. James absolutely exploded in the third. The Tigers scored 21 points in the quarter powered by a trio of threes. Branson led the scoring push with seven point, which included a three. Ridenhour added four more, while Logan Chick and Isaac Helterbrand each connected from deep, as well. Definitely, the Tigers held Steelville to just 12 points, as they turned a two point deficit to a 46-39 lead heading into the fourth.
The St. James offense stayed hot in the fourth thanks to a pair of threes from Logan Chick. Steelville kept hanging around in the fourth, but St. James led by 14 points with three minutes left to play. Tanner Diaz gave Steelville a chance late with 11 points down the stretch, but Ridenhour went 4-4 from the free throw line in the final minute to held the Tigers hold onto a 64-60 win.
Branson and Ridenhour tied for the team lead in scoring with 17 points in the win. Branson had a well rounded game, adding seven rebounds, three assists and four steals, all team-highs. Ridenhour matched Branson's assist total with three of his own. Chick added another 12 points and six rebounds, while Tyler Recker added another eight points. Tate Whitener chipped in with five, Helterbrand had three and Drew Moritz scored two in the win.
Unfortunately, St. James couldn't quite carry that momentum into Tuesday, as they were hampered by a short bench yet again. The Tigers continue to play without starting point guard Mason Parker, who has been struggling through health problems the last few weeks.
Despite the shorter bench, St. James got out to a solid start against St. Clair. The Tiger defense held St. Clair to just eight points in the first quarter, while scoring 14 points of their own. Recker and Branson did the heavy lifting for St. James, scoring 13 of those points. Recker scored seven, while Branson added six.
The Tiger offense was consistent in the second, but St. Clair started to break through on the other end. The Bulldogs scored 19 points in the quarter and St. James couldn't keep pace with 15 points of their own. Recker, Branson and Ridenhour each scored four points for St. James in the quarter, while Moritz added three more. Despite the big push from St. Clair, the Tigers were able to carry a slim 29-27 lead into the half.
After the break, St. James started to run out of gas. Recker kept the team above water in the third, scoring eight points, but the Tigers couldn't keep pace with St. Clair. The Bulldogs took the lead with 18 points in the third on the back of four threes. St. James was still hanging around though, trailing 45-43 heading into the fourth.
The wheels fell off for the Tigers in the final frame, as they managed just two points in the quarter. St. Clair put the game away with another 14 points, claiming the Four Rivers Conference win 59-45.
Recker led St. James with 19 points in the loss, while Branson added 16. Ridenhour chipped in with seven, while Moritz scored another three.
The Tigers were able to run away with the JV game 53-39 led by 17 points from Dante Pool, 14 from Kadin Guese, 10 from Gavin Caldwell and eight from Logan Sparks.
The St. James injury report expanded this week, as well. On top of being without Parker, the Whitener will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a broken wrist thought to be suffered during the win against Steelville.
St. James will look to bounce back with another Four Rivers Conference game when they play a double-header with the girls team at Owensville on on Friday, Feb. 8.