Saturday marked St. Paul's 16th straight regular-season win over Monroeville, but like many of the previous 15, this win for the Flyers did not come easy.
Alex Kashian racked up his second big double-double in as many nights and St. Paul scored the last nine points of the game in a 60-49 Firelands Conference victory over the Eagles inside the Harvey Keller Gymnasium at the Convocation Center.
"Alex could be starting, but we like that punch off the bench," St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. "If we go the other way, maybe we do not have that. We have enough balanced scoring, so we bring him off the bench and he goes against guys that have been on the floor. He is relentless."
Kashian, one night after 12 points and 13 rebounds in a double overtime win at New London, tossed in 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Flyers (12-5 overall, 8-3 FC).
Kashian usually comes on in relief of his twin brother Ian, but the two battle each other to become better.
"I woke up feeling dangerous," Alex Kashian said. "My shots were falling. Going against my brother in practice makes me better."
The game was much closer than the final score indicated. A 3-pointer by Mason Tonelli drew the Eagles (7-10, 3-8) within 51-49 with 2:55 left, but that was the last score of the game for Monroeville.
Justin Hammersmith responded with his only bucket of the game for a 53-49 lead as Smith immediately called timeout. The Eagles committed their ninth turnover of the game out of the timeout, but an empty possession for St. Paul kept the lead at four points.
Monroeville went on to commit three more turnovers in the final 1:40 of the game and Alex Kashian drilled a pair of free throws for a 55-49 lead.
On the other end, Monroeville perhaps rushed into a deep 3-point shot that was no good. That allowed a deep outlet pass to Jake Griffin, who threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk. Nate Winslow stole the inbounds pass and scored to extend the lead to 59-49 with 56 seconds left. Alex Kashian split two free throws for the only point the rest of the game.
"We were able to spread the floor and we have a lot confidence doing that," Smith said. "It is something that each time we take the floor, we feel more comfortable doing that. We got layups and we got to the free throw line. We did not come away with empty possessions. The kids did a really good job."
After eight turnovers in the first 30 minutes, four turnovers in the final two minutes will haunt the Eagles, who have not beaten St. Paul since a 75-72, double overtime game on Feb. 18, 2011.
"They pulled the ball out and spread the floor and made us guard them on the perimeter," Monroeville coach Paul Roeder said. "They drove it and dished it and we could not stop that. When we came down, we tried to be overly aggressive and had three turnovers in a row."
Monroeville could not have asked for a better start. Freshman Isaac Roeder hit consecutive 3s after banking in the game's first shot as the Eagles raced out to a 8-0 lead.
"We were happy with the start," coach Roeder said. "We knew St. Paul played a long game last night, so we wanted to come out with energy and hit them right off the bat."
St. Paul chipped away at the lead and took a 16-13 lead when Nick Winslow stepped in front of a pass and laid it in. But, Roeder banked in another shot as the buzzer sounding, getting Monroeville within a point after eight minutes. Roeder had 13 of the Eagles' 15 points in the quarter.
"We knew Monroeville would be resilient," Smith said. "They have been all year. We told the kids that it would not be easy. They have been playing good basketball. We expected that."
In the second quarter, a jumper from Roeder, coupled with a bucket from Anthony Dublo pushed the Eagles ahead, 21-18, but St. Paul clamped down defensively, shutting Roeder down for the rest of the quarter.
Meanwhile, the Flyers reeled off 14 straight points over 3:40, capped by a 3 from Alex Kashian and a score from Griffin off of an offensive rebound. St. Paul led, 34-23, at halftime.
"We knew Kashian was a nice player," Paul Roeder said. "We talked at length about how to stop that. He was able to use his strength. He got us out of the way and he got position."
Monroeville methodically cut into the Flyers' double-digit lead in the third quarter. Roeder started to heat back up, scoring three straight Monroeville buckets, cutting the St. Paul lead to 38-34. Chayce Schaub scored to slice the lead to two points, but Alex Kashian scored down low and Nate Winslow split two free throws to push the Flyers ahead, 41-36, after three quarters.
St. Paul opened a six-point lead twice in the fourth quarter - he last when Nate Winslow's jumper gave the Flyers a 47-41 lead with 4:34 left. From there, Roeder hit a jumper and Dublo added a big three-point play to cut the lead to 49-46 with 3:46 remaining.
Nick Winslow, one night after a season-high 28 points, added 16 points. Nate Winslow had nine points for St. Paul, who committed just nine turnovers.
"I think our depth helped us a little bit," Smith said. "I think we wore them down."
Roeder led all scorers with 28 points while also pulling down 10 rebounds. Dublo was the next leading scorer for the Eagles with nine points.
"Isaac is just rock solid," Paul Roeder said. "He was very aggressive offensively. His shot looked great tonight. He was knocking them down. After that first quarter, we tried to get other people involved and we just could not get anybody going."
St. Paul also won the junior varsity game, 54-29. Jordan Shepherd had 17 points and Grant Houck added 12. Gunner Howell scored 12 points for Monroeville.
MONROEVILLE (7-10, 3-8)
Anthony Dublo 4-1—9, Cody Schaffer 1-0—2, Isaac Roeder 11-3—28, Mason Tonelli 2-0—6, Eli Sweet 1-0—2, Chayce Schaub 1-0—2. TOTALS 20-4—49.
ST. PAUL (12-5, 8-3)
Treg Smith 0-2—2, Jake Griffin 3-0—6, Nick Winslow 6-2—16, Nate Winslow 4-1—9, Alex Kashian 8-4—21, Brandon Furlong 2-0—4, Justin Hammersmith 1-0—2. TOTALS 24-9—60.
Monroeville 15 8 13 13 — 49
St. Paul 16 18 7 19 — 60
3-point FGs: (M) Roeder 3, Tonelli 2; (STP) Ni. Winslow 2, A. Kashian
JV: St. Paul, 54-29