Fremont St. Joe whittled what was once a 19-point St. Paul lead down to four with a minute left Friday night in the Division IV sectional boys’ basketball tournament at Norwalk High School.
But the Crimson Streaks could get no closer as the Flyers claimed a 52-43 sectional championship win.
(NOTE: To see pictures of the game, click HERE.)
It was their sixth in the last eight years.
St. Paul moves on to the Willard district Tuesday night and plays Buckeye Central in the 6:15 p.m. game.
Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic won big, 84-27 over Danbury in Friday night’s upper bracket sectional final.
The Panthers go against Firelands Conference champion Plymouth in the second game Tuesday night.
St. Paul (10-13) took away the inside game the Crimson Streaks used Wednesday night in their win over Monroeville. They held 6-4 Hunter Harrison and 6-3 Ryan Williams to just one field goal each.
Mike Smith’s team jumped out to a 15-4 lead at the end of the first period, using a balanced five-player attack that made seven of 12 field goal attempts.
St. Joseph (11-12) used the foul line in the second period to make a game of it. They out-scored the Flyers 14-9 as both clubs cooled to just four of 12 field goal shooting numbers in the second period.
Leading by six at the intermission, the Flyers put on a clinic at both ends, forcing seven turnovers while limiting the Crimson Streaks to just one field goal in 10 attempts. Their lead was 39-20 going into the final quarter.
St. Joseph wasn’t finished, however.
Led by senior guard Marcus Kerr, the Streaks were willing to give St. Paul foul shots for field goal attempts on the offensive end.
And that strategy worked as the Flyers missed the front end of three one-and-ones and also a two-shot foul, while the Streaks were getting a 14-point effort from Kerr alone.
Following back-to-back three-point shots by Kerr, the usually reliable Scottie Slauterbeck mis-fired twice from the line.
On the next St. Joseph possession, it used just three passes in getting the ball to Kyle Veleba for an easy lay-up to make it 45-41 with 62 second left.
The Crimson Streaks couldn’t catch up with Slauterbeck, however, on the ensuing possession as he drove directly to the rack to score.
A St. Joseph turnover followed. Slauterbeck was fouled with 48 seconds left and this time he made both.
Bob Harwood then did the same with 43 seconds left and Kyle Rospert made one of two with 31 ticks left to get the game safely into the win column.
“The Kerr kid went off on us,” St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. “When we did not answer from the foul line, they made it interesting.”
It was a balanced St. Paul.
The Flyers went 20-of-48 from the field, including 2-of-7 from above the arc and 10-of- 20 from the line.
Travis Smiley led the winners with 10 points. Steve Farmer was again a spark off the bench in scoring nine points.
Kerr had 19 for St. Joseph. They were 16-of-50 from the field and 9-of-15 from the line with 20 turnovers and 27 rebounds.
St. Paul had 16 turnovers and 30 rebounds with Smiley grabbing nine.
“We challenged them over the last week and they responded with a second straight solid game,” Smith said. “My kids were disciplined and did a tremendous job of recognizing the St. Joseph offensive sets. And we can thank our scout team for getting the starters ready for what they were to face. It was text book defense on our part.
“We started the season at 1-5, seemingly not able to catch up because of our late start,’’ he added. “We were searching for sure and had some up’s and down’s over the course of the season. But, we are back on track now and ready for the challenge presented on Tuesday by state-ranked Buckeye Central. We are not ready quite yet to pack away our uniforms.”
St. Paul 52
Harwood 1-2-4, Smiley 5-0-10, Slauterbeck 3-2-8,, Rospert 2-2-6, Furlong, Derek 2-0-4, Farmer 3-3-9, Carper 3-1-8, Moffit 1-0-3. Totals 20-10-52.
St. Joseph 42
Michael 1-0-3, Linke 3-1-7, Kerr 6-5-19, Veleba 2-2-6, Williams 1-0-2, Harrison 1-0-2, Mercer 1-0-2, Yeckley 1-0-2. Totals 16-9-43.
Score by quarter
St. Paul 15 9 15 13 — 52
SJCC 4 14 2 23 — 43