In a back and forth non-conference game, the Flyers claimed a 73-57 win to improve to 13-6 overall and send the Panthers (14-4) home with just their fourth loss on the season.
The game at the Harvey Keller Gymnasium was closer than what the final score indicated.
After jumping out to a 30-15 on an Ian Kashian free throw with 3:41 remaining in the first half, St. Mary stormed back by scoring nine unanswered points — including a buzzer-beating lay-up by Cole Kromer to trail by just six at the half (30-24).
The Panthers rode the momentum through the first half of the third quarter, and even momentarily took the lead from St. Paul (35-33) on a Nate Roesch bucket. That lead only held for 33 seconds before the Flyers went on a 12-2 to go back up 45-37 and never looked back.
“First of all, I am very proud of our kids, they did a great job against a good team,” St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. “They played a pretty complete four quarters, and I think we did a great job defensively as far as making it hard on Myles Bruno. I thought he had to earn everything and I thought we did a nice job of keeping (Jordan) Jude out of the lane and for the most part, and I thought we did a tremendous job on Roesch.
“I think that our depth really helped us, too,” he added. “That and playing on a 94-foot floor may have kind of tired them out. We made a lot of nice runs there, but they would kind of reel the score in and then we would get right back out there and extend the lead. But I liked the way we finished.”
Nate Winslow was most responsible for the big runs for the Flyers. He got hot in the fourth quarter and slammed the door shut on SMCC, scoring 10 of his game-high 20 points. He nailed a pair of 3-pointers to put the game away for St. Paul.
“Nate has started shooting the ball a lot bit better from the perimeter,” Smith said. “He starting to get a little confidence shooting from three, and he is so good off the dribble that it just makes him a tough guard for the opponents.”
SMCC had trouble solving the Flyers’ defensive riddle. St. Paul mixed in zone and man principles, and the Panthers made a few too many mistakes to win.
“It was a hard fought game and we did not play well tonight,” SMCC coach Chris Ceccoli said. “St. Paul had a lot to do with that. They really pushed the ball in transition, and we didn’t do a good job of getting back like we wanted to. We didn’t do a good enough job on the boards. If you are deficient in transition defense and rebounding, it’s not going to be a good outcome for you.
“I was proud of the effort, we made that push in the second quarter and even in the third, too,” he added. “Our kids found a way to dig a little deeper and get back into the game, but unfortunately we ran out of gas. We have to continue to get ready. We have a big game on Wednesday with Tiffin Calvert and we are still fighting for a conference championship and we have to just get ready for that. We just have to get back to what we are capable of doing both offensively and defensively.”
The Flyers had four players in double figures scoring, led by Nate Winslow (20), Alex Kashian (13), Jake Griffin 13, and Nick Winslow (12) in the win. Meanwhile, SMCC got 17 from Bruno, while Dillon Christian added 14 and Jordan Jude scored 10 in the loss.
“Again, Alex and Ian were just good inside and Griff did what he does,” Smith said. “I mean it was just everybody tonight. It was just an all-around effort, and everybody got involved and it was a nice win. They have a good team, they don’t have 14 wins for nothing.”
St. Paul cruised to a 63-41 win in the junior varsity game, as Grant Houck scored 23 points and Jordan Shepherd added 17.
Cole Kromer 3-0—6; Dillon Christian 6-0—14; Jordan Jude 5-0—10; Myles Bruno 6-2—17; Michael Capizzi 0-2—2; Nate Roesch 3-0—6; Aiden Fullam 1-0—2. TOTALS 24-6—57.
ST. PAUL (13-6)
Noah Good 1-0—2; Treg Smith 1-2—4; Jake Griffin 5-2—13; Nick Winslow 4-4—12; Brandon Furlong 1-0—2; Justin Hammersmith 1-0—2; Nate Winslow 8-1—20; Ian Kashian 2-1—5; Alex Kashian 4-4—13. TOTALS 27-14—73.
SMCC 12 12 15 18 — 57
St. Paul 16 14 17 26 — 73
3-point FGs: (SM) Bruno 3; (SP) Nate Winslow 3, Griffin, A. Kashian
JV: St. Paul, 63-41