Playing in its season opener, the St. Paul basketball team raced out to an 11-0 lead midway through the first quarter of Friday’s Firelands Conference game vs. Monroeville at the Harvey Keller Gymnasium in Norwalk.
That proved to be all the Flyers needed, as the lead only dipped back to single digits twice more — briefly in the first quarter — in a 61-42 win over the Eagles.
The Flyers (1-0, 1-0) led 18-4 after one quarter on 7-of-17 shooting and just one turnover, then extended that lead to 35-12 at halftime on 13-of-31 shooting and just two turnovers. On the other side, the Eagles (0-2, 0-1) were 5-of-19 in the opening half and had committed 11 turnovers.
The numbers told the story, and both coaches agreed.
“They jumped on us, and it’s two games in a row we had a horrible start,” Monroeville coach Paul Roeder said. “We knew St. Paul would come out with some energy, I thought our guys were up to it. But it took them until the second half when we started playing good basketball, so we have to figure that out.”
Meanwhile, Mike Smith was more than pleased for the first time out for his Flyers, who brought back three varsity players from last season’s 14-win team.
“Anytime you can win by almost 20 in the opener, you’ll take that,” Smith said. “You never know what will happen when the lights come on, but I thought we did a lot of positive things. Obviously we have to get consistent and need some game work, that’s for sure. But I’m happy with a lot of things we did.”
Scott Adelman, Brandon Furlong and Nick Winslow scored the first three baskets of the game, then Furlong added a 3-pointer and Nate Winslow scored for the 11-0 lead at the 4:25 mark of the opening three-plus minutes.
“I liked the balance we had and not really relying on one guy,” Smith said. “We have multiple guys who can score and our role players came in and played their role — which is how we want them to be. I thought we did that really well tonight.”
After Monroeville’s Isaac Roeder made it 9-2, and Gunner Howell trimmed the margin to 12-4, the Flyers closed the quarter with a 3 from Furlong, a free throw by Nate Winslow and a basket by Jordan Shepherd as all five starters scored for an 18-4 lead.
The scoring spree continued in the second quarter, highlighted by four points from Nate Winslow in just a matter of seconds. He scored on a driving layup, then stole the inbounds pass and immediately scored again for a 32-9 lead. Adam Baker’s right corner 3 with 1.6 seconds left in the half made it a 35-12 lead.
The Eagles showed some fight in the third quarter. They trimmed the deficit to under 20 points, getting to within 49-32 on a Roeder basket with 1:17 left in the quarter. With 7:12 left, a basket by Mason Tonelli made it a 51-35 deficit, but the Eagles drew no closer.
They had two straight chances to draw closer, but then Adelman answered a little over a minute later and the Flyers closed out the game comfortably.
“I thought our guys didn’t quit, and that was the message for the second half, to just go out and compete,” Coach Roeder said. “I thought we did that, but that was just too big of a hole, and we have to learn from this. We have to figure out why the second half worked and not the first half.
“I think we’ve got some players, but we just did not play well again tonight,” he added. “We’ve got some good shooters who didn’t shoot well tonight. Isaac kind of kept us in range at times, but we never did have those multiple stops on defense to get us back in the game.”
Nate Winslow finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Flyers, while Shepherd added 14 points and Adelman had 13. Furlong contributed eight points and nine rebounds.
“We got out and rebounded and did a nice job of challenging shots,” Smith said. “We still have to have better ball movement and spacing, and sometimes the ball sticks in our new motion offense. But obviously when the ball moves is when we’re at our best.
“I think we can shoot it better, which we’ve done pretty well in practice,” he added. “But game speed is game speed and practice speed is practice speed. The only way to adjust is to go out and play.”
Roeder finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds on 9-of-16 shooting to pace the Eagles.
St. Paul is at Fremont St. Joseph Saturday night in non-league action.
The Eagles are off until next Friday when they host New London.
MONROEVILLE (0-2, 0-1)
Isaac Roeder 9-2—20; Cody Schaffer 2-0—5; Mason Tonelli 1-0—2; Gunner Howell 1-0—2; Meritt Key 0-5—5; Wesley Scullion 0-1—1; Trevor Schafer 2-0—4; Jimmy Clingman 1-0—3. TOTALS 16-8—42.
ST. PAUL (1-0, 1-0)
Spencer Myers 0-2—2; Adam Baker 1-0—3; Scott Adelman 5-0—13; Nick Winslow 2-2—6; Brandon Furlong 3-0—8; Nate Winslow 6-3—15; Jordan Shepherd 5-4—14. TOTALS 22-11—61.
Monroeville 4 8 20 10 — 42
St. Paul 18 17 16 10 — 61
3-point FGs: (M) Schaffer, Clingman; (STP) Adelman 3, Furlong 2, Baker
JV: St. Paul won