February 17th, 2012
St. Xavier Will Ride Streak Into Postseason
Tigers defeat Manual 73-64 for sixth straight victory
The St. Xavier High School Tigers handcuffed DuPont Manual High School in the third quarter, allowing only eight points, and beat the Crimsons 73-64 to cap the regular season on Friday night.
St. X (19-8) fell behind early to the visitors because of the long ball. Manual hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter to pull ahead. The Crimsons' (17-10) lead was five points nearing the end of the first quarter when Tiger junior Christian Hardy scored on a rebound to cut the margin to three points.
Tired of seeing the Tigers turn the ball over in the first quarter, St. Xavier head coach Kevin Klein challenged his squad on senior night.
“We weren’t firing on all cylinders in the first quarter,” he said. “They (Manual) are such quick jumpers and are so athletic, we had to body up. We didn’t do that early.”
More than halfway through the second quarter, St. X made a run. Down by six, junior Justin Moody hit junior Brock Kiesler for a score. The Tigers found the backdoor open when sophomore Robert Shaw hit junior Alex Jones to pull the Tigers within three points.
That worked so well, St. Xavier pulled the backdoor open again when Kiesler hit Jones. Jones then gave the Tigers their first lead since the first seconds of the game at 29-28 on a jump shot where he drove to his left, lifted quickly and let it swish through the hoop.
Senior Nathan Smith scored the last four points of the half to give the Tigers a 34-32 lead at the break.
The third quarter was all St. Xavier. Kiesler went hard to the basket for a score and foul to set the tone. He scored nine points. The Tiger teamwork shined through when Shaw tossed a perfect alley oop pass to Jones, who sat it in the hoop to give St. X a nine point lead. Defense ruled the quarter as the Crimsons could only muster eight points.
Tiger junior William Glasford blasted a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and give St. X its biggest lead of the game at 52-40. Manual whittled the lead down to five, but the Tigers played ferocious. Smith rebounded his own miss for two more of his 19 points. St. Xavier outrebounded Manual by twelve.
Another example of the outstanding board work was on a steal by Shaw, who raced down the court but couldn’t convert the lay-up. Jones was right there to follow the shot.
“To hold Manual to eight points in the third quarter, I thought was the difference in the game,” Klein said. “We played great team defense, had great team rebounding and were very unselfish with the basketball in the second half. We played winning basketball late when the game was on the line.”
The Tigers, now winners of six straight games, are now set for the postseason and host the 26th District Tournament beginning Tuesday night. St. Xavier hosts Brown School at 6pm, followed by Male High School vs. Collegiate. The championship is Thursday night at 7pm.