February 6th, 2016

St. Anthony takes Hoosier title

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

St. Anthony takes Hoosier title
The Bears hoisted the trophy after beating Our Lady 46-41 to win the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries fifth/sixth-grade A league / photo by Eric Thorne

St. Anthony may have had just seven players, but they were enough for the third-seeded Bears to knock off top-seeded Our Lady 46-41 in the championship game of the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries fifth/sixth-grade A league tournament Saturday at Providence High School.

The Bears (5-4) came in as the season runner-up against undefeated Our Lady (8-1) and had lost to the Crusaders twice during the regular season. But that didn’t deter them and they overcame an eight-point third-quarter deficit to secure the win.

Mekhi Smith rang up 13 of his team-high 21 points in the final quarter for St. Anthony and teammate Cole Davidson finished 12 points.

“This is so exciting for us and definitely a moment to remember,” Smith said. “I just wanted to get my teammates the ball when they were open and score when I had the chance.”

Our Lady scored on the opening tip on a layup by Max Beatty, but they didn’t score again until AJ Richards found Beatty on a nifty backdoor with 1:42 left that pulled his team back within 7-4. Beatty added four more free throws that gave his team an 8-7 advantage at the end of the quarter.

Jackson Folz hit two hook shots to open the second quarter for Our Lady and then got a big layup rejection at the defensive end to inspire the Crusaders.

St. Anthony tied the game 14-14 with on a Smith layup with 3:30 left, but he picked up his third foul and had to go the bench with six points. He returned with a minute to play and dropped in a pair of foul shots with no time left to pull the Bears within 17-16 at the break.

“Our Lady was the team to beat, but we came into this game as hot as we have been all season and playing the best ball we could have ever hoped to play,” St. Anthony coach Travis Spann said. “I’ve been coaching some of these kids since third grade and they are fantastic kids to share this with.”

The teams traded buckets on the opening three possessions of the third quarter before Our Lady ran out to a 30-22 advantage. Beatty scored nine points in the quarter along with Folz working down in the paint.

Beatty led the Crusaders with 23 points and Folz finished with 15.

However the Bears rallied late in the quarter, with Smith scoring six points and Davidson sinking a pair of foul shots with no time left on the clock to pull his team within 36-31 heading to the final quarter.

“This is a big, big win for our school and that was a great team that played good defense on us,” Davidson said. “Coach kept telling us to play harder and not make silly passes and that made the difference. Our fans were the loudest I’ve heard all year and that was so great to hear.”

Spann agreed and stated that the championship was a season long effort.

“All the hard work, sprints, conditioning all paid off and came together to finish with this win, so it was all what we wanted to get the win and the championship,” Spann said. “I’m very happy for the kids to get this.”

Smith continued to rally St. Anthony with steals and converting them into layups. With 1:58 left in the game he hit a fallaway putback to tie it at 40 and then racked up the final six points.

“We just knew we had to make the shots and then hit our free throws and believed we could pull it out,” Smith said.

For Bob Dallman, who has been coaching at Our Lady for 46 years, it just came down to execution.

“You know, we just didn’t do a very good job getting back on defense to stop him (Smith) and then they got hot and converted their layups,” Dallman said. “We just haven’t been playing very well the last couple of games and it showed tonight. But I’m proud of these kids.”


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