St. Philip and Climax-Scotts hope to be in the race for a league title all season.
But both teams know, that race doesn’t start until they play each other.
After Friday night, give St. Philip the advantage at the first turn.
St. Philip held off Climax-Scotts, 50-43, in this Southern Central Athletic Association boys’ basketball game at Sheila Guerra Stadium.
Climax-Scott’s Logan Hunter goes for the ball against St. Phillip Friday evening.
In one of the better small-school rivalries in the state, St. Philip used its homecourt advantage to take over first place in the SCAA West with the win. The victory allows the Tigers to go 6-0 in the division and 7-3 overall with the win over the No. 6-ranked Climax-Scotts squad, which falls to 5-1 in the division and 8-2 overall.
“This is a big win, it feels great. It was a great atmosphere here at Sheila Guerra Gym, great crowd on our home court. It was very loud, it was packed, it was hot and I’m just very proud with how hard our boys played as they got a big, important win in our league against our rival,” St. Philip coach Dino English said.
St. Philip started out fast with a 9-3 lead after an early 3-pointer by Dreyson English. Then with back-to-back 3-pointers by sophomore Zach Nelson off the bench, the Tigers led 15-6 at the end of the first quarter.
A defensive second quarter by both teams sent the game into intermission at 17-10 with St. Philip still holding the advantage.
That’s when Climax-Scotts made its run and showed why it is ranked in Class D. Behind 10 points in the period by Panther junior Dallas Froberg, Climax-Scotts took its first lead of the game at 23-22 with 3:47 left in the quarter.
The game was still a one-point game in the final seconds of the quarter before Nelson hit another 3-pointer with :02 left in the period to give the Tigers a 30-26 lead heading into the final period.
“We made some runs at them, but they never got rattled. I thought that was the key,” Climax-Scotts coach Steve Critchlow said. “We’d make a run and then they would hit a couple big shots, right in our face. You get a tight game like that, if you can hit those big shots, you are going to win.”
The Panthers stayed within a basket going into the final minutes, but St. Philip senior Hunter Haley hit a step-back 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining to give the Tigers an advantage they could ride until the end.
“I thought we shot the ball well tonight. Our guards shot really well and our dribble penetration was working well tonight, too,” English said.
St. Philip had a chance to put the game away from there with free throws, but the Tigers would miss four straight in the final minute to keep the door open. Ethan Vosburg of Climax-Scotts hit a 3-pointer with :27 left to make it 47-43, but the Panthers wouldn’t get any closer.
“We held on at the end, but it wasn’t because of our free throw shooting, that’s for sure,” English said. “I think we rebounded well and our help-side defense was good, trying to stop their scorer. He’s a scorer, that’s what he does, and we had to find a way to slow him down and I think we did enough.”
Froberg still had 27 points to lead Climax-Scotts, but he had to work hard to get open looks over the Tiger defense.
“I thought they played really good team defense and made us give it up,” Critchlow said. “In the second half, Dallas was able to have his way in the paint, but getting down in the first half hurt.”
St. Philip had balanced scoring with Nelson and Brayden Darr leading the way with 11 points each as Haley added 10 and English chipped in with seven.
“We talked before the season about how we were a young team and we were going to have to grow as a team as we went. This was a huge game in the league for us. To get a win like this really shows how this team is growing and I’m proud of the effort,” Dino English said.