Led by senior standouts Brad Carpenter and Ronnie Suggs, the Washington Blue Jays chartered their spot in the 61st Annual St. Francis Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament Gold Division championship game Thursday night.
The Blue Jays (2-0) ripped O’Fallon Christian in a pool game, 75-45.
“I thought our kids played well,” Washington Head Coach Grant Young said. “I thought we went on a good run in the second quarter and really came together in the second half. We made the extra pass well, moved the ball and got people open.”
Washington will play crosstown rival Borgia in the championship contest Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“Every time there is a Borgia-Washington matchup, and it hasn’t been for two years I think, there always is a great game with a lot of fans,” Young said. “It should be a great game Saturday for the championship.”
The Blue Jays had a number of highlights in the game.
Overall, Washington hit 15 three-point baskets in the game with Carpenter netting eight of those.
Carpenter led the Blue Jays in scoring with 26 points, including his eight three-point baskets.
“We want him chucking it from the cheap seats because he’s a great shooter,” Young said. “Maybe he didn’t start out good when he got knocked to the floor, but maybe that’s the spark that got him going and livened him up a little bit. He does a great job finding the open shot and being ready to shoot. They’re very unselfish in finding him for the shot.”
Suggs recorded his 1,000th career points in the game, scoring 22 points. Suggs needed 20 points coming into the game and he surpassed the career milestone with 5:47 to play in the contest. Suggs hit a three-point shot from the corner to go over 1,000 points.
After a brief ceremony, the game resumed.
“He was down to one point,” Young said and we really wanted to get him that so that it wouldn’t hang over him in the championship game at all. Sometimes, when you do that for a player, you get out of rhythm because you’re trying to force it at times. It’s a great honor to have that opportunity. Not many kids can do it. The greatest thing is that all kids know they never would be able to do that without their teammates. It was a great honor for Ronnie to be able to get that on a night early in the season during his senior year.”
Suggs had a slow start to the game, but scored five points in the first quarter and three in the second before finding his stride in the third quarter. Suggs scored nine points in the third quarter, including a slam dunk. He capped the run to the milestone in the final quarter and left after going over the mark.
Not to be lost in the shuffle was a 25-7 Washington run through much of the second quarter. The Blue Jays trailed 18-17 when freshman Trey Walsh hit from just outside the stripe.
Carpenter hit three three-point shots while Suggs, Walsh and Mike Morgan also struck from outside the stripe to turn that one-point deficit into a 42-25 lead at the half.
For the game, Walsh was Washington’s third-leading scorer with nine points. Senior Jacob Mulkey scored seven points, Morgan ended with five, sophomore Isaiah West netted three, senior Austin Subke scored two and senior Patrick Menke had one point.
“Our depth allows us to spread the defense out and help the offense,” Young said. “We still have to get their starters into foul trouble and on the bench.”
O’Fallon Christian played a bit shorthanded for the second game in a row. The Eagles only had seven players at the contest.
Senior Evan Marcks scored the majority of the points for Christian, netting 17 points. He hit five three-point baskets.
“The Marcks kid did a great job in the first half leading his team,” Young said. “We were letting him getting into his comfort zone.”
DT Christianson scored eight points while Sam Henderson and Jackson Rodgers netted six points apiece.
Andrew Stone followed with five points and Jacob Theonen added four.
Jackson Rodgers led the team with seven rebounds and four assists. Henderson had three assists and three steals.
Christian hit seven three-point baskets in the contest.
Even though the Eagles had far fewer players, they were able to stick with Washington through the first quarter, trailing by two points after eight minutes, 14-12.
“We didn’t attack the basket very well in the first half,” Young said. “We need to realize that if we attack and run the offense a little better that the threes will still be there.”
The Eagles took the lead early in the second quarter on a pair of three-point baskets, but Washington put its superior depth to work and found the holes in the Christian defense to run to a 44-25 lead at the half.
From there, Washington never looked back. The Blue Jays were up 65-34 after three quarters and activated the running clock for the final eight minutes.
According to the roster, Christian was missing five players for the game, including regular standouts Deantrell Prince and Jordan Norwine.