Rogers’ DeVonte Pratt, left, and Fadil Robinson, center, defend against St. John's player Trevor Walsh during their game Tuesday night. St. John’s took control from the start and won against its former City League rival.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
A City League title wasn't at stake when St. John's Jesuit played host to Rogers on Tuesday night in a non-league contest.
That didn't mean thoughts about best in the city weren't on the minds of those playing in the meeting between former City League rivals before a packed crowd inside the Titans’ gym.
That clearly was the case, and St. John's made it clear with an 81-74 victory against Rogers, walking away with Glass City bragging rights.
"It was definitely a matchup of two powerhouse teams from their respective conferences," said St. John's 6-foot-8 senior Marc Loving, who poured in a game-high 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. "We felt like we would have to compete the whole game. We knew it was going to be a track meet."
No one came out of the starting blocks faster than Loving.
The Ohio State-bound talent scored 22 points in the first half to lead the Titans into the break with a 41-38 lead against Rogers, which customarily sets the pace during its games with pressure defense and an uptempo offense.
Loving scored eight of the Titans’ 19 points in the fourth quarter to play a major part in pulling away from Rogers down the stretch.
Austin Gardner scored 17 points and Anthony Glover added 10 points for St. John's (14-3), the favorite to win the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. Both hit two 3-pointers.
Loving drew the loudest cheers when he scored on an alley-oop dunk after catching a lob from Gardner to give St. John's a 62-54 lead late in the third quarter.
"It was a great game for us to have at this point," St. John's coach Ed Heintschel said. "It was not a league game, and yet it was against a top-notch opponent.
"They're as good as anybody. They're great. They're very strong and it was a good game in that sense."
Tony Kynard and Clemmye Owens combined for 40 points to lead the Rams (9-6), the favorite to win the City League championship. Kynard finished with a team-high 21 points, including two 3-pointers. Owens added 19 points, including a pair of 3s.
"We didn't execute down the stretch, and we missed too many free throws," Rogers coach Earl Morris said. "It was a good game. St. John's is a good team. We just have to execute down the stretch."
Rogers made only 7 of 19 foul shots while St. John's made 22 of 33. Loving sank 11 of 12, including a 4-for-4 effort in the final quarter.
"We were all pretty focused before the game because we wanted to get this ‘W’ and it feels good to get it," Loving said.
Loving delivered often for the Titans in the first half.
He made scoring look easy and simple against the Rams. He had his way inside and made good on mid-range attempts to guide the Titans.
Loving's play inside the 3-point arc helped open up plenty of looks for teammate from the 3-point line. The Titans knocked down five 3-pointers during the first half, including a pair each by Gardner and Chris Stearns.
"Marc is a tough matchup," Heintschel said. "He's like B.J. Raymond before and some of the other players we've had like Jay Larranaga and Shane Komives. Those guys can go inside and outside and it's a tough matchup.
"He's going to Ohio State because he's pretty good. He showed it tonight."
Yet, Rogers kept pace with St. John's in the first half. Owens had 12 points in the second quarter and a total of six Rams finished the half with at least three points. The Rams made three 3-pointers before the break.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.