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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2005

Roberts and Meinert lift St. Francis

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
St. Francis' Marlon Price elevates
above the Clay defense to score two of his 10 points last night at Libbey. St. Francis' Marlon Price elevates above the Clay defense to score two of his 10 points last night at Libbey.
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Clay probably couldn't have planned the start of its Division I sectional semifinal game against St. Francis de Sales last night at Libbey High any better than what unfolded.

The Eagles bolted to a 12-0 lead over the Knights and City League leading-scorer Darryl Roberts.

But that ended up not being enough to hold off St. Francis.

The Knights put together a fierce rally to come away with a 75-60 victory to earn a chance to face City League champion St. John's in a district semifinal.

St. John's cruised to a 95-51 win over Rogers in the first game of the night at Libbey.

Roberts, who finished the regular season averaging just under 24 points, led the Knights' comeback with a game-high 27 points. He scored 16 in the first half, which ultimately set up sophomore shooting guard Nick Meinert for a big night.

Meinert pumped in six of the Knights' 10 3-pointers and finished with a career-best 24 points.

"I was feeling it tonight," Meinert said. "I was getting open and my teammates were finding me and getting me the ball.

"Darryl did a good job of drawing the double-team and getting me the ball."

Roberts, who knocked down three 3-pointers, said the Knights (15-5) never panicked even though they trailed by a dozen points early.

"We just stayed together because we're a team," Roberts said. "We've had a good season and didn't want it to end."

St. Francis climbed back into the game and was only down 22-14 at the end of the first quarter. The Knights outscored the Eagles 23-11 in the second quarter to end up leading 37-33 at the half.

"I told them don't panic because we're only a couple of possessions away from being back in it," said St. Francis coach Nick Lowe.

Clay coach Joe Guerrero credited the Knights for recovering from the slow start.

"Ten [3-pointers] is tough to play against," Guerrero said. "We couldn't find them in transition and that was key. They did a great job of finding the shots in transition.

"We knew Roberts was going to get his points, but Meinert stepped up."

Wes Taylor led the Eagles (14-6) with 20 points while Nick Zenk added 12.

Marlon Price finished with 10 for St. Francis.

In the opener, St. John's wasted little time and perhaps even less energy to steamroll Rogers 95-51, raising its record to 18-3.

B.J. Raymond, who needed 17 points to become St. John's all-time leading scorer, poured in 19 of his team-high 26 points in the first half.

Zach Hillesland finished with 13, including nine before halftime.

Raymond surpassed Neshaun Coleman (1995) as the Titans' all-time scoring leader. Coleman, who stands as the only player during Ed Heintschel's tenure as St. John's coach to start on the varsity all four years, scored 1,422 points.

Raymond, who was able to surpass Coleman in only three years as a starter, didn't meet his pre-game expectations to move up in the Titans' record book.

"My goal was to get [the record] done in the first quarter," he said.

"That's no knock on Rogers, but I just wanted to get it all over with.

"Coleman did it in four years and I did it in three. It's a great honor and I give thanks to God."

Falling behind 9-0 to St. John's to start the game wasn't a good sign for Rogers (5-13). The Titans were ahead 50-22 by the half.

Raymond watched most of the second half sitting beside Hillesland on St. John's bench.

Rogers' Brent Jones led all scorers with 28 points. He was the only Ram in double figures.

St. John's made 25-of-25 free throws while Rogers was 14-of- 24 from the foul line.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

419-724-6302.



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