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St. Paul snaps four-game skid in win at SJCC

By JOSH MORGRET • Jan 9, 2018 at 11:07 PM

FREMONT — St. Paul led Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic the entire night.

And even when the Crimson Streaks made a run, St. Paul had the answer.

The Flyers scored the final six points of the third quarter en route to a 65-52 non-league win on Tuesday.

"I liked the energy we played with and the tempo we played at," 29th-year St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. "We tried to extend our defense a little bit and rotate a bit quicker. We tired to utilize our depth and that is what helped us get that lead and finish off a solid win."

After SJCC had cut the St. Paul (3-4) lead to 42-35, Nate Winslow stole a pass and laid it in for a bucket. After the Streaks (6-4) committed a turnover, Nick Lukasko scored. Then, another empty possession for SJCC led to Winslow being fouled, to which he made two free throws for a 48-35 lead after three quarters. St. Paul made 7-of-12 shots in the third quarter.

"I liked our third quarter and our third quarter has been our best this year," Smith said. "We tried to do some things to get some energy with some trapping. Part of it was our rotation where we kept being energy. I was real happy with that. Maybe St. Joe was tired."

St. Paul did not stop there. Chris Ruffing made two free throws to open the scoring in the final quarter. Chris Morrisette scored to stop the bleeding for just a minute for the Streaks. Winslow, Brandon Furlong, and Paul Pearce each scored once, and Ruffing scored twice to balloon the Flyers' lead all of a sudden to 60-37 with 4:54 left. The 18-2 run by St. Paul covered 5:04 of game time.

"I thought we did a nice job on the defensive glass for the most part," Smith said. "We were able to get out and run and St. Joe is a good basketball team. This is always a tough place to play. It is a smaller court and I thought there were a lot of good things we did."

The Flyers led from start to finish in what had the making of a very competitive game. The Streaks had won three games in a row while St. Paul had dropped its last four games. Two Ruffing free throws gave the Flyers an early 8-2 lead. St. Paul led, 18-12, after one quarter, but could not open the lead much bigger until the back half of the second quarter.

Chase Harrison scored off of an offensive rebound to draw SJCC within 24-20, with 3:58 left, but the defense of St. Paul dominated the rest of the quarter. Ruffing and Winslow scored before Lukasko split two free throws for the only five points the rest of the quarter.

The drought for the Streaks continued into the third quarter. Two full minutes passed before Harrison scored again for SJCC. Meanwhile, Pearce scored a bucket and split two free throws to up the St. Paul lead to 32-20.

"I like the stretches we played," Smith said. "We did not go through scoring droughts tonight. We were consistent pretty much the whole way. I like the kids' enthusiasm and how they played with a sense of urgency, which is something we have talked about."

After Harrison's score, Winslow drilled the only 3-pointer of the game for either team for a 35-22 lead. SJCC slowly climbed back in the game. The Streaks got buckets from Tad Foster and Morrisette to get within 42-35 before SJCC coach Jon Will called timeout, with possession of the ball.

Ruffing topped St. Paul with a big double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds while Winslow scored 13 points. Nate Winslow added 11 points for the Flyers, who committed just 12 turnovers and out-rebounded SJCC.

"Chris Ruffing was really good and I thought Nick and Nate Winslow played well and distributed the ball well," Smith said. " We played very unselfish. Nobody cared who got the credit."

After dropped three straight contests from 2011-2013 in the yearly rivalry, the Flyers have now taken four of the last five meetings and have not lost in Fremont since December, 2011.

"I have a lot of respect for coach Will and his program," Smith said. "Our non-league schedule is a good one. We do not put a non-league schedule together that is not competitive. When we come over here, we know the gym is a little bit shorter and a little more tighter. You have to be a little more disciplined."

In the junior varsity game, St. Paul lost 43-42. Alex Kashian had 16 points for the Flyers, and Grant Houck added 12.

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