It was exactly what the St. Paul Flyers did on Friday night in a 63-48 win over the Plymouth Big Red on the road. Trailing FC leader New London by two games heading into the contest, the Flyers just had to continue to take care of business and worry about themselves. They did just that.
Jumping out to a quick 23-10 lead after the first and owning a 13-point advantage at the half, the Flyers let the Big Red hang around for a while as Plymouth came within eight in the fourth. The Flyers kicked it in gear and ended the game on a 19-9 run to put the clamps on another FC win.
“We talk about taking care of business and taking one game at a time even though we got down two games to New London early,” St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. “We have run the gauntlet lately going on the road to South Central and Western and we have had some big games with not a ton of time to relax and enjoy ourselves.”
Da-Da-Da-Da ... Da-Da
St. Paul’s Paul Pearce provided the Flyers with a spark on both ends of the floor scoring 15 points, grabbing five boards and dishing out four assists. But it was his play on the defensive end that shifted momentum throughout the contest. Nearly recording a double-double with points and charges taken, Pearce forced a handful of Plymouth turnovers by taking charges.
“He had about 13 or 14 charges taken on the year even with missing four games,” Smith said. “He has a knack for that and he gets that look in his eye where he is determined to not let anyone stop him. He competes very hard every time he is on the floor. He came up with some very tough rebounds. When we needed him, he was impressive.”
The Flyers saw four players reach double figures in the scoring column led by Brandon McCall’s 19 points followed by Pearce with 15, Dylan Furlong with 14 and Noah Winslow with 10.
For much of the game, the Flyers owned a 10-plus-point lead, but the Big Red cut it to six forcing a St. Paul timeout. After that, it was all St. Paul.
“We had four guys in double figures which is great for us,” Smith said. “They (Plymouth) scare me after watching their last two games against Mapleton and New London. They played both of those teams very well. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I called timeout when it got to eight and I challenged our kids to get it going and they put it in another gear.”
“Brandon was solid and Dylan hit some shots, but Noah had a great game for us. He knocked down some big shots early that got us going. When those four are playing like that, it helps us out offensively.”
Plymouth coach Derrick Shelenberger admits the shots just stopped falling after the Big Red went on the run.
“We had a couple of breakdowns but bottom line is we got in the lane like we were supposed to, we just didn’t make the shots,” Shelengerger said. “We preached pump-faking, getting guys on their feet and going through them. Well we would get them in the air but we would fade away. That isn’t going to get us anywhere.”
Kade from deep
Plymouth’s Kade Collins provided the Big Red with a bright note offensively with 15 points including three 3-pointers. On a night where most of the Big Red were tentative with the basketball, Collins let it fly.
“I got on Kade a couple weeks ago and made the whole team run when he made mistakes in practice,” Plymouth coach Derrick Shelenberger said. “He just wasn’t playing like himself. I have seen him play for a very long time and he wasn’t playing like Kade. When he hits a shot, he scores in bunches. When he goes hard, he is a way better player than he was at the beginning of the season.”
Jacob Adams dropped 10 points to give the Big Red a double-digit scorer including eight points in the fourth when he took the ball to the rim.
“Some of our guys are not used to the length of St. Paul,” Shelenberger said. “We just didn’t have a way to prepare for that. Can’t use that as an excuse because they are a very good team. Sometime we are gun-shy and sometimes we shoot it 70 times a game. It is a mental thing. I have said it that we are getting there, but it is time we get there.”
After the New London Wildcats were upset by the Western Reserve Roughriders on Friday night, the Flyers and Riders now sit just one game back of New London in the FC standings. The Flyers travel to NL on Feb. 10, but Smith admits his team is not looking that far ahead.
“We found out the score and realized what had happened,” Smith said. “We have five league games left and now we control our own destiny. Successful people in life no matter what business you are in, go above and beyond. They prepare and put the extra time in and that is what we are going to ask our kids to do. We have a big double weekend next weekend with Monroeville and Crestview at home. I think we owe Crestview a little bit.”
St. Paul improves to 11-3 on the season and 7-2 in the FC. The Flyers are back in action on Saturday at Edison. Plymouth falls to 2-12 and 1-8 in the FC. The Big Red travel to Mansfield Christian on Tuesday.
In junior varsity action, the Flyers came away with a 38-31 win. Chris Ruffing dropped 13 points for the Flyers while Walker Elliott added eight for the Big Red.
St. Paul 23-13-9-18 — 63
Plymouth 10-13-12-13 — 48
St. Paul: 26-46 FG, 6-13 FT, 5-14 3pt. (Adendano 1, Furlong 2, Winslow 2) 31 rebounds (McCall 6), 17 turnovers, 17 Assists (Adelman 4, Pearce 4), Steals 4. Scoring: Brandon McCall 9-1-19, Paul Pearce 6-3-15, Dylan Furlong 5-2-14, Noah Winslow 4-0-10, Jacob Adendano 1-0-3, Nick Lukasko 1-0-2.
Plymouth: 15-45 FG, 13-17 FT, 5-18 3pt. (Collins 2, Chaffins 2) 26 rebounds (Osborne 5, Collins 5), 13 turnovers, 8 Assists (Chaffins 3), Steals 6 (Nester 4). Scoring: Kade Collins 4-4-15, Jacob Adams 5-0-10, Logan Myers 2-4-8, Austin Nester 1-4-6, Mitchell Chaffins 2-0-6, Dylan Osborne 1-1-3.