January 11th, 2019

St. Xavier Falls to Male 66-49

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 


St. Xavier Falls to Male 66-49
St. X bench/ photo by Jeff Woods

For the second straight Friday, St. Xavier falls to one of its biggest rivals. This time, it was district foe, Male.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 12-0 lead and never looked back in a 66-49 win over the Tigers. The loss is St. Xavier’s fourth in six games after starting the season 9-0.

“You have to give Male a lot of credit. They played with a chip on their shoulder,” said Tigers Head Coach Kevin Klein. “They were hungry and had an attitude that they wanted to compete in a big district game. I thought our guys responded in spurts but not well enough for 32 minutes.”

Male received a significant boost with the return of junior guard Howard Fleming, who missed the first 13 games of the season and only played limited minutes last week against Silver Creek (IN). He led the Bulldogs with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

“He’s a special player,” said Male Head Coach Tim Haworth. “When you get him back, you’re just going to be better.”

Fleming came out red hot right from the tip, scoring the first eight points of the game. As a team, the Bulldogs were six-of-nine from three in the first quarter, racing out to a 25-13 lead. Male finished the night 10-of-17 from behind the arc.

“We’re a really good shooting team,” said Haworth. “We put up some really good numbers from three-point range.

“We take good threes, and we have good shooters, but when we rush things or take quick shots, that’s when we get into trouble. We’re just trying to figure it all out as we go.”

On the flip side, the Tigers had a difficult shooting night at just 36 percent. They also allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 64 percent.

“They made a lot of shots, but a lot of their shots were open,” said Klein. “We have to do a better job defensively, execution, competing, knowing the scouting report. We’ll look at the film and learn from that, but they did play very well.”

The Tigers trailed by as much as 23 in the second half. Klein went deep into his bench looking for a spark and found one. St. Xavier went on a 9-0 run and pulled within 13 before Male put the game away midway through the fourth quarter.

“I think we were just one or two plays away from getting it right where we wanted them, but we just couldn’t get it there,” said Klein. “In a game like that, you’re just searching, trying to hit the right buttons, find the right guys, and get the momentum back on our side. I’m proud of how some guys stepped up.”

Junior Sebian Dillard led the Tigers with a game-high 23 points. However, the rest of the team combined to score only 26 points.

“We definitely need to get a few more options to give us a more well-rounded attack,” said Klein. “I think the pieces are there. It’s just a matter of trying to find a puzzle that fits.”

For Male, junior Ty Moore joined Fleming in double figures with 17, hitting five-of-seven from long range. With Fleming back in the lineup, the Bulldogs look to make some noise in the coming weeks.

“I think we’re right there with anybody in the region with Howard,” said Haworth. “You take the best player off of anybody’s team, and you’re going to struggle a little bit at times. We’ve had great wins over Butler and Fern Creek. We’ve had a brutal schedule, and I think that’s going to help us later on in February.”

Both St. Xavier (11-4) and Male (10-5) will compete in the Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament next week at Valley High School. The Bulldogs face Fern Creek Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. while the Tigers meet PRP immediately following Male-Fern Creek at 8:15.

 

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