St. Christopher’s coach Hamill Jones described the task late in the Prep League season best. In a battle of the Saints, St. Christopher’s was at a disadvantage before tipoff on the road against St. Anne’s-Belfield which was hosting senior night and getting the crowd even more energized than usual.
“The thing about the Prep League is that these are road trips, real road trips,” Jones said. “We experienced it tonight and they do the same when they come to Richmond. Parents travel, but when you’re on the road you’re going up against the crowd. And with senior night, there’s even more emotion.”
After a loss to St. Christopher’s back in January on the road, St. Anne’s was able to come out hot with plenty of early 3-point shooting to take a commanding lead. It was one that it would hold onto in second half that had an entirely different pace and flow but ended with a 65-55 victory for STAB to snap a four game losing streak.
“We played fast, communicated and pressured,” said St. Anne’s assistant coach Damin Altizer. “We brought the energy and the student section was great. We played exactly how we wanted to early on a build a nice lead out of it.”
It took all of 90 seconds for the Saints to connect on their first two 3-pointers of the game with Jordan Pennix and Dalton Taylor connecting. Taylor finished with eight points in the first quarter to lead the way.
“We came out hot hitting threes and just got up and down the floor really fast,” Taylor said. “We did we wanted to do and that was nice.”
With things close at 10-9 for STAB midway through the first, the home team embarked on a 23-4 run from there to take a 33-13 lead just over midway through the second quarter. There the Saints got rolling in the paint behind Myles Ward and Nic Kent and a pair of 3-pointers from Messiah Woods.
“The crowd was the best part of this game to be honest,” Ward said. “We feed off them, they feed off us. The better we play the more excited we get and the score reflects it.”
St. Anne’s took a 37-20 lead into the break but St. Christopher’s took control in the second half. Switching to their zone defense, St. Christopher’s looked to deny STAB’s 3-point barrage and it worked. However, the Saints slowed things down on offense and worked the ball around for open looks which chewed away at the clock.
“We went big and went to zone and tried to use our length to bother their shooters a bit more,” Jones said. “But when you go zone it slows the game down and I think we were in too big of a hole early to come back like we wanted to.”
A 10-3 run went St. Christopher’s way to start the third behind Gibson Jimerson. The junior had a huge third quarter with 14 points and got his team to within eight points of the lead. But with Nick Reese and Kent responding late in the third, the Saints were able to take a 51-33 lead going into the fourth.
Jimerson continued his offensive assault in the fourth to get St. Christopher’s to within 10 points of the lead again. Working against the clock though, the visitors were forced to foul STAB in the final two minutes of play. There Taylor and Kent knocked down free throws to put the game out of which and wrap up the win.
“We had to slow things down a bit but in the end we did the job, got the W and that’s what matters,” Taylor said.
On the night, Kent led STAB with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor finished with a team best 18 points. Ward had 13 points to go with six rebounds.
For St. Christopher’s, Gibson led all scorers with his 35 points. Jack Pendlebury had 11 points.
St. Christopher’s (13-8) travels to Steward on Saturday. St. Anne’s (11-10) finishes up its regular season on Tuesday with a road trip to Woodberry Forest.