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Published: Saturday, 12/2/2006

St. Francis utilizes 22-3 run to pound Perrysburg

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
St. Francis' Nick Meinert knifes between Perrysburg's Glenn Empie, left, and Ricky Heber. Meinert scored 22 points. St. Francis' Nick Meinert knifes between Perrysburg's Glenn Empie, left, and Ricky Heber. Meinert scored 22 points.
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Perrysburg kept pace with St. Francis de Sales for almost a half last night in a boys basketball season-opener for both teams.

But the home Knights used a 22-3 run that began in the second quarter and ended in the third to pull away and take a 65-46 victory.

Senior wing Nick Meinert started the first-half portion of that crucial surge for St. Francis, then scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in a span of 1:48 in the third quarter to cap it.

The balanced Knights, who shot 60 percent (24 of 40) from the field, got 12 points from Kevin Henry, and eight points and 11 rebounds from Steve Vaculik. They also got a boost from the bench with Jordan Frost adding 12 points and nine boards and Alex Rieker contributing nine points.

Both teams had some key losses to graduation from last season when St. Francis of the City League finished 18-3 and the Northern Lakes League champion Yellow Jackets ended 18-4 overall.

Those losses weren't so evident early on in what began as a see-saw battle.

There were 15 lead changes in the first 13 minutes of the game, the last coming when Perrysburg senior guard Andrew Wood hit a 3-pointer 5:05 before halftime for 21-19 edge.

"There were two things we talked about at halftime that we thought were hurting us," Knight coach Nick Lowe said. "They were crashing hard and getting offensive rebounds from the perimeter and getting second shots.

'The second thing, on the offensive end, we were just playing too fast and trying to force things. So, we wanted to make an extra pass and look into the post a little more. We did a good job of that and we got some easy baskets."

Meinert hit one of two free throws 3:48 before the break, then added a layup to start the

8-0 first-half part of the run.

Perrysburg's Neal Linthicum tries to weave his way between St. Francis defenders Steve Vaculik (44) and Kevin Henry.

Perrysburg's Neal Linthicum tries to weave his way between St. Francis defenders Steve Vaculik (44) and Kevin Henry.
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Wood, who scored 21 points, hit one of his four 3-pointers 30 seconds into the third quarter to pull the Jackets within 27-24.

"We cut it to three and then we had three straight turnovers,"

Perrysburg coach Dave Boyce said. "That really set the tone. I think we took a step back right there, and it was hard to recover."

Vaculik answered with a layup 40 seconds later, and Meinert would then follow with two driving baskets, a 3-pointer and then a steal and layup at the 5:04 mark for a 38-24 lead.

"At the end of the first half we really stepped it up on the defensive end," Meinert said. "Then, we went into the locker room and we had noticed some [offensive] opportunities that we hadn't capitalized on. We came out in the second half and capitalized and put a lot of points of the board."

Meinert's basket from the wing with 4:25 left in the third quarter put St. Francis ahead 41-24,

capping the 14-3 second-half portion of the big run.

"Nick did a great job of being patient tonight," Lowe said. "He didn't force it. He let it come to him and, when he hit his hot streak, he knew that that was the time. He kind of put us on his back there for a little while. He's a great competitor."

"They turned up the pressure and our inexperience showed," Boyce said. "They pushed us out a little further on offense and, let's face it, we didn't finish either.

"We had some good looks and they just didn't go down. They also pushed the ball well during that stretch and we gave up some transition baskets."

Perrysburg, which got no closer than nine points after the 22-3 run, got nine points from David Boyce and eight from Neal Linthicum.

The Jackets were 18-for-53 (34 percent) from the field and 4-for-10 from the line. St. Francis, which outrebounded the Jackets 31-25, was 12-for-18 from the line.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com or 419-724-6461.



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