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Costly scoring drought hurts St. Paul — again

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Dec 24, 2017 at 2:40 AM

NORWALK — Two costly scoring droughts at almost the exact same times.

The St. Paul boys basketball team saw a 35-29 lead in the third quarter of Saturday’s non-league game vs. Edison become a 41-35 deficit. Though the Flyers — without the services of senior post Chris Ruffing — rallied back from eight points down to tie the game, there was too much James Hill for the Chargers in a 60-54 win.

In a 58-44 loss at Huron on Friday, Nick Lukasko made a 3-pointer at the 3:14 mark of the third quarter to put St. Paul (2-2) up 36-29. The Tigers then scored 16 straight points as the Flyers were scoreless for a 5:05 stretch.

In Saturday’s game, Lukasko made a 3-pointer to put St. Paul up 35-29 with 6:51 left in the third. This time, the Flyers didn’t score for the next 7:55 of the game — nearly a full quarter.

The Chargers (6-2) then took control with a 13-0 scoring run in that span, and led by a 45-37 score with 6:19 left in the game. It was 48-41 in favor of Edison with just over four minutes left when the Flyers went to work.

Ian Kashian, called up from the junior varsity team with Ruffing out with injury, was huge for St. Paul. His four straight free throws made it a 48-47 deficit with 4:17 left. After a basket by Hill, Kashian came back with a three-point play to tie the game at 50 with 3:30 left.

But Hill — who had a career night with 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting — responded with two straight baskets to put the Chargers back on top (54-50) with 1:44 left.

After an empty St. Paul possession, Bryce Roberts was fouled and made both free throws with 50.3 seconds left — and a St. Paul basket by Paul Pearce with 37.9 left to make it 56-52 was as close as the Flyers got down the stretch.

“Our three senior leaders really stepped up and made plays tonight,” Edison coach Kyle Hammond said. “James was outstanding, Bryce made big free throws and Gavin (Schaeffer) played probably one of his better games this season. But James was the big performance obviously. And he made some big plays down the stretch in general.”

Roberts had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Schaeffer had 10 points as the trio combined for 48 of Edison’s 60 points.

“I thought we did a really good job of making it difficult for them to get it inside,” Hammond said. “I think missing Ruffing really hurt them there, but then the Kashian kid made huge plays for them. St. Paul has a good team, and I think we’re really fortunate to win this one.

“I really like my team, and love how they compete and play for each other,” he added. “I think we can accomplish some great things, but of course we have to keep getting better.”

St. Paul coach Mike Smith knew his team had his hands full this weekend with Hill and Roberts, and Huron’s Michael Hurst.

“I think we competed against a really good team without our best post player,” Smith said. “I think there was a lot of things we got out of that. We didn’t have key stops on James Hill, and we have to settle in and be more efficient in all areas — but we played hard.

“We played two really well-coached, good teams with probably three of the best players in the Bay division in Hill, Roberts and Hurst,” he added. “Those games are going to make us better.”

Kashian finished with 13 points and six rebounds for the Flyers, while Lukasko had nine points, and both Nate Winslow and Treg Smith each scored eight. Pearce also grabbed seven rebounds.

“I was happy Ian had a really good game, and Treg gets eight in his first start,” Smith said. “I like what we’re doing, and I think each time out we’ll get better. I just didn’t think we gave as much help as we needed to on Hill and made some other guys beat us, though Schaeffer hit two big threes.

“We did a tremendous job on Roberts between Nick and Kaden (Rossman). But we had some critical turnovers that we didn’t need. But when we did lose the lead, we were able to come back and tie it up. I saw a lot of resilience and fight from the guys, and we’re starting to realize what we have when things are under fire.

St. Paul rallied from a 33-29 deficit through three quarters to win the junior varsity game, 46-42. Justin Hammersmith scored 20 points and Alex Kashian and Grant Houck each scored eight.

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