After starting the boys basketball season with five straight losses, St. Clair is moving closer to the .500 mark.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs (7-9) have now won four of their last five games following Monday’s 48-34 victory over fourth-seeded Crystal City at the Union Tournament.
“When we’re a good team, we play hard, don’t make mental mistakes and don’t turn the basketball over. That’s our type of game,” said St. Clair Head Coach Casey Korn. “We didn’t have that energy tonight until late in the game. We were fortunate to stay around early. We have eight seniors on this team. They need to be ready to go every single night. We had the experience advantage. We got the last punch in and they weren’t able to respond.”
St. Clair plays top-seeded Pacific (10-7) in the championship semifinals Friday at 6 p.m.
Pacific defeated St. Clair early in the year in the seventh-place game of the Borgia Turkey Tournament, 55-48.
“It’s nice to be on the winning side of the bracket. I can sleep a little better. We get an extra day to prepare,” Korn said. “We have to play a good Pacific team that we’ve seen once at the Borgia Tournament. Both of our teams have improved since then. It will be a good measuring stick because we’ll see them in our last conference game and possibly in the district tournament. They’re a good basketball team.”
Neyko Dominguez led the way against Crystal City with 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Ben Feddersen finished the game with nine points and three rebounds.
Adam Brott added eight points and two assists.
Austin Gotway registered four points and three assists.
Brandon York had three points and seven rebounds. Evan Murphy scored two points. Reno Jones had one point.
“Neyko is doing a nice job. He understands what needs to go on,” Korn said. “When we made our run, we ran the same play five times and he was able to find a different option each time.”
Andres Tullock paced Crystal City (7-9) with 10 points. Bryan DeGeare and Peyton Pollock both had eight points.
DeGeare, 6-8, came into the game averaging 18 points per outing.
“We had a good game plan defensively,” Korn said. “My preference is to play man-to-man and match up with everybody, but we sat back a little to take away No. 55 (DeGeare). We wanted to force someone else to beat us. The energy came from our defense.”
With the score tied 30-30 after three quarters, St. Clair dominated the final eight minutes.
The Bulldogs went on a 12-2 run over the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to grab a 42-32 advantage.
Dominguez scored eight points during the run while Feddersen and Brott both had two points.
For the entire fourth quarter, St. Clair outscored the Hornets, 18-4.
“In the fourth quarter, we went back to a man-to-man defense and pressured them. We started in zone and were a little lazy. You can’t get lazy in zone,” Korn said. “Our offense definitely fed off our defense. When our defense ramped it up a little, our offense started to go.”
Both teams held leads throughout the first three quarters.
St. Clair held leads of 10-9 after one quarter and 21-20 at halftime.
The third quarter was fairly even and St. Clair pulled away in the fourth.