Several times in recent years, St. John's Jesuit has played its best basketball coming off a poor game.
Last night's convincing 74-50 City League victory over previously unbeaten Scott was another example of that trend. The Titans, ranked fourth in the state in Division I, took over first place in the league with their victory over the sixth-ranked Bulldogs before an estimated crowd of 5,500 at Savage Hall.
St. John's (12-2, 8-0), which was upset by Clayton Northmont 41-35 on Monday at Vandalia Butler High School, was anxious to prove that result was an aberration. Perhaps no Titan was more anxious to do so than Xavier-bound Titan senior B.J. Raymond.
After St. John's guard Mike Floyd scored the game's first points on a layup just two seconds after the opening tip, the 6-6 Raymond cranked things up 41 seconds later with a resounding, one-handed, throw-down dunk for a 4-0 lead.
Those were the first of Raymond's game-high 26 points, all of which were scored by the end of three quarters when the Titans held a commanding 58-32 lead over the Bulldogs (12-1, 7-1). He added a game-high eight rebounds, plus a whole lot of inspiration by way of energy spent.
"We lost on Monday and we knew we couldn't come out and take anything lightly," Raymond said. "We wanted to come out and show that we're still the top team.
"We were on our high horse and [Clayton Northmont] knocked us all the way down to the ground. We got up and dusted ourselves off tonight and got back on it, and now we're riding again. We had one bad game. Don't judge us off of that."
Zach Hillesland added 14 points for the Titans, Ted Heintschel had nine and Floyd eight as red-hot St. John's hit 28 of 44 shots (64 percent) from the field and outrebounded the smaller Bulldogs 35-23. The Titans were 14-of-20 from the foul line.
"The guys were determined to make amends for the last time they played," Titan coach Ed Heintschel said. "I think they were embarrassed, so they just wanted to come out and play hard.
"We knew Scott would come at us really hard, and we needed to meet their intensity. I thought we did a pretty good job of that."
Scott - which had forged its 12-0 mark with superior guard play, pressure defense and converting in transition - was unable to find that form in this game.
"They beat us at every phase of the game, no question about it," said first-year Scott coach Joe Suboticki. "We're not young, because we've got seven seniors. But we don't have a lot of experience in situations like this. I don't know if it was the big game, or the big crowd, or playing at UT or what. But we just didn't do anything that we had normally done in the first 12 games.
"We just stood around and went one-on-one on offense, and we didn't lock up like we normally do on defense. I was really disappointed in the way we played, but the sun will come up tomorrow and we've got to get back to the drawing board. Hopefully this will wake 'em up and we can start playing like we did in the first 12 games of the season."
The Bulldogs trailed just 12-11 after a Stephen Woodley basket midway in the first quarter. That's when St. John's launched its first big run, a 13-4 spurt to end the period up 25-15.
Ahead 34-21 at the break, the Titans put together a game-breaking 17-4 stretch to open the third quarter, with Raymond's put-back bucket turning into a three-point play and a comfortable 52-25 lead with 2:38 left in the third.
"B.J. kind of set the tone, with his offense especially," Heintschel said. "The intensity was there. His ferocity and his intensity and his focus were outstanding. He brought it tonight, and he hit some tough shots in the first half. He played a complete game."
Scott, which trailed by as much as 29, trimmed the deficit to 19 (59-40) on two free throws from senior guard James Walker (22 points) with 3:59 left in the game. But the Bulldogs could get no closer.
Senior forward Darrion Griffin added 15 points for Scott.
"The tone of the game was set on the first play on the tip," Suboticki said. "They ran a tip play and got a layup, and we just went downhill from there. They took it to us, plain and simple."
The Bulldogs were 18-of-54 from the field, 12-of-20 from the line, and forced 18 turnovers while committing 12. Forward Kenny Byrd, who came in averaging 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds, managed just four points and five boards.
The win was St. John's eighth straight over Scott, dating back to the Bulldogs' last victory in December of 2000.
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