The game of basketball is a lot like a game of chess. Adjustments are made constantly throughout the game and will usually determine the outcome.
The St. Pius X Warriors found themselves in deep trouble midway through the second quarter of Friday night’s West Central Conference game against Smith-Cotton at the S-C gym.
S-C fired in five treys in the first 12 minutes and jumped out to a 22-13 lead.
The Warriors called time, adjusted by pulling out their defense to tighten up on S-C’s perimeter shooters, pulled within 25-24 at the half and pulled away against the defense-less Tigers for a 67-58 WCC win.
Early on, St. Pius gave the Tigers the perimeter shots. Dalton Christian, Brady Ritzert, Dalton Zaremba, Chance Johnson and Zach Wolf all dialed long distance in the first 12 minutes of the game as the Tigers built a nine-point lead halfway through the second quarter.
Warrior Coach Chad Wright decided enough was enough and called time. Following the time out, the Tiger perimeter shooters couldn’t breathe.
The Warriors closed the half on an 11-3 run to close within 25-24 at halftime.
S-C tried to keep running but turned the ball over numerous times and were not quick enough or tall enough to stop the Warriors from beating them back down the floor for easy layups and bank shots underneath.
A layup by Mac Mason at the start of the third quarter gave St. Pius its first lead at 26-25. The Warriors stretched their lead to 32-25 before Johnson used a screen to pop in a free-throw line jumper to make it 30-27 but the Warriors went on a 5-0 run to open up a 35-27 lead.
Ritzert scored five straight points with his second trey as the Tigers clawed their way back within 41-39 late in the third.
St. Pius led 45-41 after three quarters.
S-C’s defensive mistakes really did them in during the fourth quarter. S-C tried to press and trap, but the Warriors skillfully broke through and made several layups or the Warrior guards lobbed the ball to their big men for uncontested bank shots.
To start the fourth, Christian knocked down a jumper from the baseline and Johnson buried his second trey to tie the game at 45-45.
St. Pius got untracked and responded with an 11-0 run, one bucket on a lob pass inside, two treys and a conventional three-point play to lead 56-45 and turned the lights out on the Tigers.
S-C got within six at 61-55 late but got no closer.
S-C fell to 7-15 overall and 2-7 in the West Central Conference.
Tiger coach Ray Hughes was miffed that his squad never got into the bonus free throw shooting situation in the second half. The Tigers shot just four free throws in the second half and made nine of 12 from the stripe in the game. St. Pius made 19 of 29 free throws in the game.
Brian Kauffmann led the Warriors with 23 points and Mac Mason added 17. The two combined to make 13 of 23 free throws.
Christian and Ritzert each scored 13 for the Tigers and Johnson had 12.
Between the two varsity games Friday, S-C seniors from the High Voltage Dance Tam, the cheerleading squad and the Lady Tigers and Tiger boys’ teams were honored on Senior Night.
St. Pius 47, S-C 34
The S-C Lady Tigers lost their third straight to even their record at 12-12 overall and 4-5 in the conference.
Despite holding St. Pius scoreless in the first quarter and leading 9-0 after the first quarter, the Lady Tigers couldn’t hold the lead.
St. Pius led 20-16 at the half and 30-23 after three quarters. S-C scored just 14 points combined in the second and third quarters and just 25 in the last three quarters.
Jac Greer, playing her final game at home, led S-C with 12 points and Elena Sharp, also playing her final game at home, added 10.
Katie Ross led St. Pius with 13. Rose Monachino added 11 and Bailey Thomas 10.
S-C’s teams will close their regular seasons Friday with West Central Conference games at Warrensburg. Then they will play in the Class 5 District at Hickman. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.