Both St. John’s Jesuit and Whitmer played 32 minutes of basketball at the Whitmer Fieldhouse Tuesday.
But the Titans’ 51-36 victory was basically decided in the game’s first four minutes.
The Panthers scored the game’s first basket, and St. John’s responded with the next 13 – and from that point Whitmer was struggled to claw back into the game.
“Coach always talks about coming out hard, both offensively and defensively, to set a tone,” said St. John’s Houston King, who finished with 14 points. “I thought that’s what we did.”
PHOTO GALLERY: St. John's defeats Whitmer
The Panthers made their first basket, but then went scoreless on five straight possessions. At the same time, the Titans missed their first shot before scoring on their next six possessions to build a quick 13-2 lead with 4:20 still to play in the opening quarter.
“We were ready to play and ready to defend their stuff,” Heintschel said. “We got some good things on offense, and we got the right guys going.
“They defend well, and they have good length on defense. But I thought we did a good job of moving the ball. When we move the ball, we’re better.”
Besides King’s production, Ryan Christie and Vincent Williams each added nine points to lead St. John’s (15-3, 10-0 TRAC).
Leon Hughes scored 10 points while Eddie Colbert added nine for Whitmer (13-5, 8-3 TRAC).
The Panthers made just 5-of-18 shots in the first quarter (27.8 percent). They trailed 17-9 after the first quarter, and things got worse in the second as they went almost seven minutes without scoring and trailed 28-13 at the half.
“Offense has been our problem all year,” Whitmer coach Ryan Brown said. “This is the third game in a row where we have started the game poorly on offense.
“I thought we got good shots, not great shots. But when you don’t make shots against a team like that, they’re going to take advantage of you.”
The Panthers tried to make a game of it in the third period, using a 10-2 run to cut the Titans’ advantage to 32-23 with 2:46 on the clock.
But a 3-pointer by Christie and a driving layup by King stopped the potential comeback.
“I felt we were a little helter-skelter, a little all over the place,” King said. “I just felt, as a senior leader, I had to make a play.”
Hughes made a jump-hook in the lane with 6:55 to go in the fourth quarter that cut St. John’s lead to 39-27. But the Titans scored the eight points and never looked back.
The win keeps the Titans unbeaten in TRAC play and gives St. John’s some breathing room over its nearest league competitors, Whitmer and St. Francis.
“I have a lot of respect for Ryan, and their kids play hard,” Heintschel said. “To come to their court and get the win, that’s a good thing.”
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