It wasn't pretty for the most part, but host St. Francis de Sales eventually found enough continuity after halftime to take a 64-51 basketball victory over winless Anthony Wayne last night in the semifinals of the first Knight Christmas Classic.
One Knight player that seemed in sync throughout the game was 6-3 senior Brody Henry, who topped his team with 20 points and eight rebounds. Fourteen of Henry's points - seven in each the third and fourth quarters - came after halftime when St. Francis (2-2) pulled ahead for good midway in the third, then pulled away down the stretch.
The Knights also got 11 points and six rebounds from 6-11 junior center Storm Stanley, all in the second half. Stanley missed most of the first half after picking up his second foul just 3:02 into the game.
Greg Fockler added 10 points for St. Francis.
"Things were just working for me tonight," Henry said. "Things were falling. I was taking the ball to the basket hard and finishing.
"We tried to slow it down and feed the post more [in second half]. Storm was struggling in the first half, but in the second half he started taking care of the ball. That really helped us."
The Knights will face Olmsted Falls (3-3) in tonight's 7:45 Classic title game.
Anthony Wayne (0-7) didn't look like a winless team early on, out-hustling the Knights while building an early lead of 14-6 on Cam Walton's layup with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
The sluggish Knights got back within 16-13 on a Kent Goldsmith free throw early in the second quarter before consecutive buckets from Andrew Donnal and Brad Celusta stretched the edge back to seven points.
Celusta had 14 of his game-high 22 points in the opening half. Walton added 16 for the Generals.
St. Francis pulled even 21-21 on two Jake Szenderski free throws 2:29 before halftime, and Fockler's six-footer from the lane sent the Knights to the break ahead 28-27.
Anthony Wayne took its last lead when Walton drove the baseline for a layup to open the third quarter, and drew even for the last time at 33-33 on two Walton free throws at the 6:09 mark of the third.
That's when St. Francis gained some breathing room with a pivotal 10-1 run, which was capped on Stanley's free throw for a 43-34 lead with 2:02 left in the period.
The Generals got no closer than four points thereafter, the last time at 53-49 on a Walton drive with 4:16 left in the game.
The Knights answered that late threat with a game-closing 11-2 surge.
"We were sluggish and we were sloppy, but I give some credit to Anthony Wayne for that," Knights coach Nick Lowe said. "We just never got into a flow, and I couldn't find the right combination. We never got into a rhythm.
"In the second half it helped us to get the ball inside, but we couldn't shake them. We couldn't get rid of them. They played hard and they battled. We tried to get better spacing in the second half."
St. Francis was 23-of-48 (48 percent) from the field, 17-of-30 (57 percent) from the line, outrebounded the Generals 38-32 and forced 18 AW turnovers while committing 17.
Anthony Wayne was 19-of-55 (35 percent) from the field, including a woeful 2-for-19 on 3-point attempts. The Generals hit 11 of their 16 free throws.
"We just kind of got in foul trouble a little bit and then we quit moving the ball on offense," Generals coach Nathan Gaubatz said of his team's late fade. "Give them credit, they took advantage of us when we got in foul trouble. They went inside and used their size. That was the big turning point.
"We were doing a nice job being active defensively, and I think we created some turnovers. That got us going offensively. When we were playing aggressive we were playing pretty well."
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