The fourth and final spot for Tuesday's City League boys basketball playoffs was up for grabs last night at Savage Hall, and Scott snatched it up.
St. Francis de Sales (8-10, 4-5 CL) knew it was out by the time it lost 51-35 to St. John's Jesuit in the first game of a doubleheader.
When Libbey completed its league slate at 9-0 with a victory over visiting Bowsher, the Bulldogs seized the opportunity with an easy 76-58 triumph over Rogers in the second game here.
A Bowsher win would have put the Rebels (7-10, 5-4) into the 6:30 p.m. CL semifinal Tuesday. Instead, Scott (9-8, 5-4) will face Libbey in that game, with St. John's (13-4, 8-1) playing Central Catholic (16-2, 7-2) in the 8:30 contest.
“To be where we are this year, with only one veteran player back, I'm ecstatic,” Scott coach Earl Morris said. “Libbey did us a favor, so we're going to try to do something to them if we can.”
Last night's first game opened at a snail's pace, with neither team getting untracked (combined 5 for 23) from the field and St. John's ahead just 8-5 after one quarter.
But the Titans closed the half with a 13-5 surge over the final 4:25 to take a 23-14 lead.
“We got a couple things going, but we're not pushing the ball as well as we should and we've got to work on that,” Titan coach Ed Heintschel said, critiquing his team heading into the playoffs. “It's got to become a priority. We've got to move the ball better. We're just hanging onto it and doing too much one-on-one stuff.”
Senior forward Brandon Barabino (13 points, eight rebounds) led the second-quarter surge with seven points, including a 3-pointer from the right corner five seconds before halftime.
“It's a rivalry game and since we lost to Elida we've been looking for revenge,” Barabino said. “Everybody's talking about wanting to play us now, so we came out to prove something and make a statement.”
The Knights pulled within four early in the third quarter, getting a bucket from Luke Barton and a 3-pointer from Joel Malhoit. But St. John's extended its lead to 34-22 over the next seven minutes.
St. Francis cut it to 36-27 on a C.J. Johnson trey with 7:03 left in the game before St. John's answered with a 3-pointer from Brian Roberts (15 points) and then a basket from B.J. Raymond (10 points, nine rebounds).
The Knights, paced by 13 points from Johnson and 10 from Dustin Szenderski, got no closer than 11 over the final five minutes.
“Every time we made a run, they answered,” Knight coach Nick Lowe said. “But we don't look at this game as the reason we're not in the final four. We can look at last week at home against Start [51-43 loss last Friday] and we can look at the Bowsher game. Those were games we felt we could win but didn't.”
St. John's was 17 of 35 from the field, 12 of 18 from the line and outrebounded the Knights 33-22. St. Francis was 13 of 46 from the field, 4 of 6 from the line, and forced 16 Titan turnovers while committing 12.
Scott's drama with Rogers lasted just the first quarter.
The Rams took a 13-10 lead on a Brantley Dennison basket with 1:20 left in the first period, which closed tied at 13.
“We came off a tough game at Lima Senior [84-83 overtime win] and these young kids can only get up for so many games at the beginning,” Scott coach Earl Morris said of his team's slow start. “That was upsetting to me because they were looking ahead to the Libbey game and you can't look over anybody.”
The Bulldogs continued on what would become a 14-0 run to take a 24-13 lead on the third of four 3-pointers in the game from Romeo Alexander (16 points). Vershawn Chears scored 15 of his game-high 23 points during Scott's 29-point second quarter.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a 49-37 edge in rebounding, paced by 16 from Edward Armour, who added 10 points.
Jarret Hickel-Wyatt topped the Rams with 18 points and Marquis Glenn added 12. Rogers played without leading scorer and rebounder (14.7, 8.2) Fred Davis, who sustained an apparent stress fracture in his arm during Wednesday's practice.