In the most recent poll, the undefeated St. Philip boys’ basketball team is ranked No. 3 in Class D. And on Tuesday night, against the visiting Tekonsha Indians, the Tigers played like it, with a 64-36 victory in a Southern Central Athletic Association contest.
The win brought the Fighting Tigers’ record to a perfect 13-0.
“I really don’t think about,” said St. Philip head coach Dino English. “I don’t think as a team we really think about it. To me it’s like a kiss of death, because everybody’s looking for us.
“But I’ve gotta give it up to the guys – they deserve it. Not me, but they do – they’re the ones who are putting in effort and have been working hard in the gym.”
Since St. Philip’s roster currently consists of 11 seniors, coach English wants to get each of them a chance to start in front of their home crowd. With just a few home games remaining, five of them got that chance go on Tuesday.
“Those guys have been bustin’ tail in the gym just like everyone else,” said English. “I wanted to get them a start here in front of the crowd…and in front of their friends and family.”
To begin the game, the Indians got off to a quick start, and held a 13-7 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first.
But then St. Philip started to roll as the Tigers went on an incredible 48-8 scoring run.
Isaac Cloward immediately hit a 3-pointer for St. Philip upon entering the game, and at the end of the first, the Tigers had taken the lead 14-13.
Midway through the second, Hunter Haley found the bottom of the net from 3-point land, and then stole the ball for a quick layup to put St. Philip up by double digits.
“During practice we emphasize a lot of ‘up-in-your-face’ defense and pressure all over the court – and with our athleticism we’re able to do that,” said Haley, who finished the game with 11 points.
The Tigers were up 35-21 at the halftime break, and were nowhere near finished with their dominant performance.
The first 20 points of the third quarter belonged to St. Philip. The scoring run was capped off by a 3-point basket from Dreyson English, which brought the score to 55-21.
With 2:46 remaining in the third, Tekonsha’s C.J. Lawhorn made a layup to end its scoring drought, but a successful 3-point play by St. Philip’s Brent DeBree gave the Tigers their largest lead of the night at 58-23.
St. Philip stretched the lead just a bit further in the fourth on a mid-range jumper by Freddie Hallacy, which put the score at 64-28.
Tekonsha scored the game’s final eight points to bring the final score to 64-36.
“Our man to man pressure was working really well, and we started to get some turnovers and some easy buckets out of them,” said English. “I think everybody contributed in this game tonight, which is awesome.”
St. Philip had 11 different players score points with Haley’s 11 points leading the way. Tyler Hubbard-Neil added 10 points, while Gabe Hanna led the Tigers in rebounds with seven.
For Tekonsha, Jeremy Scherer scored 10 points and Lawhorn pulled down eight rebounds.