With a spot in the City League basketball playoffs as the carrot dangling in front of Scott and St. Francis de Sales last night, Bulldog senior Romeo Alexander felt it was time to shake off his 10-quarter shooting slump at Savage Hall.
The 5-10 guard did just that, scoring 24 of his game-high 26 points after halftime to lift Scott (12-5, 8-2 CL) to a 58-48 victory which clinched the No. 3 seed for the Feb. 24 league semifinals, likely against St. John s Jesuit.
“We re into a bad mode right now because we re trying to do too many things individually,” Scott coach Earl Morris said. “But tonight, when we had to step up and play defense, I thought we did well. Our shot selection is not where it s supposed to be, but we re coming along.”
Morris had some encouragement for the slumping Alexander.
“I told him, You re a shooter, and a shooter don t stop shooting. You can have eight or nine bad games, but there s always that one game we may need you,” Morris said. “This was a pivotal game for us. It puts us in the final four, and I didn t want to go to the last night having to win at Start to get in.”
Alexander, averaging 17.5 points per game, had a nightmarish two games here the prior two Fridays in losses to CL leaders St. John s (77-44) and Libbey (67-44).
He scored eight and nine points on a combined 6-of-42 shooting, while fellow scoring leader Vershawn Chears tallied just five and three points, respectively, in those losses.
After missing seven of his eight first-half attempts from the field, Alexander finally broke loose, lighting up the Knights on 10-of-16 shooting after halftime.
He hit his first four shots in the third quarter as Scott grabbed a 27-22 lead 2:43 into the period.
“The first two games here I didn t feel very comfortable,” Alexander said, “and those were the two biggest games of my life.
“I ve been working on my shot all week and I just came out here, shot the ball, and gave it my best. I had lost some of my confidence, but not all of it.”
Chears also shook off his scoring woes, contributing 15 points for the Bulldogs, who were 24-of-65 from the field and 9-of-16 from the line.
Although St. Francis (12-5, 7-3) would pull within three in that quarter and within 44-43 as late as the 3:57 mark of the fourth quarter on two free throws from Drew Donovan (13 points), the Knights could never regain the lead.
The loss, combined with Whitmer s 55-53 win Thursday at Clay, may have cost St. Francis a playoff berth. Whitmer (9-7, 7-3) beat the Knights in league play, and needs to beat Waite at home Friday to clinch the No. 4 seed. St. Francis would need to beat St. John s Friday night here and have Whitmer lose to get a berth.
Last-place Bowsher may have just three wins on the season but first-place St. John s Jesuit found the Rebels a bit tougher than expected last night before taking a 54-44 victory in the first game of a City League doubleheader at Savage Hall.
Brian Roberts paced the Titans (13-4, 9-1 CL) with 15 points, Zach Hillesland had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and B.J. Raymond added 12 points and 11 boards as St. John s made the difference at the foul line.
The Titans, who trailed 35-33 with 4:37 left in the third quarter after a driving layup from Rebel guard Andy Smith (11 points), connected on 19 of 23 free-throw attempts compared to Bowsher s 4-for-6 effort at the line.
The Titans tied the game on two Raymond free throws with 3:53 left in the third quarter, and took the lead for good 25 seconds later on a 3-pointer from Roberts from the left wing.
“Bowsher played a nice game and they shot a lot better than we did,” Titan coach Ed Heintschel said. “They changed defenses up and we didn t adjust very well to that. We didn t shoot well, and we didn t get many offensive rebounds. I m not happy with the way we played, especially down the stretch.”
Bowsher (3-13, 1-9) - which also got 10 points and nine rebounds from freshman guard Chris Wyse and eight points from Kenny Rivers - pulled within 42-38 when Smith hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with 5:34 remaining in the game.
But the Rebels could get no closer as St. John s hit five of its seven fourth-quarter free throws and limited Bowsher to 3-of-11 shooting in the final period.
“We give our kids all the credit in the world,” Bowsher coach Mark Malinowski said. “We ve got three wins all year, but we ve played St. Francis to [within] one point, Whitmer to one point, Scott to three points, and we made a pretty nice showing tonight.
“They re resilient. They come back every week and practice hard. Some coaches with three wins can t wait until the season s over. But not me with these guys. We re looking forward to the tournament.”