St. Clair appears to be peaking at the right time of the season.
The Bulldogs (6-15, 3-3) turned in a big performance Tuesday at New Haven, knocking off the Shamrocks, 51-33.
“We played our best game of the year. Our defense was pretty darn good. We executed the game plan. We took away what we needed to take away and we contested shots. After the first couple of possessions, we rebounded the ball really well,” said St. Clair Head Coach Casey Korn. “We did a pretty good job handling the basketball. There weren’t a lot of live ball turnovers that allowed New Haven to get easy points. They always had to work to score.”
The Shamrocks (15-8, 1-5) never got things going.
“We were behind all night. They jumped out to a 9-0 lead, which made a difference,” said New Haven Head Coach Ray Steinhoff. “Give St. Clair credit. They executed about as well as anybody has against us all year. They ran their offense really well and their role kids did a good job screening and freeing up their shooters.”
After opening a 9-0 lead, St. Clair owned advantages of 11-7 after one quarter, 22-17 at halftime and 34-25 after three quarters.
“We were down by seven points with the ball with four or five minutes left in the fourth quarter, turned it over and then Reno (Jones) hit back-to-back three-pointers for them,” Steinhoff said. “It went from seven points to 13 points pretty quick.”
Reno Jones led St. Clair with 24 points on 8-9 shooting from the floor. He added seven rebounds and five steals.
Ben Feddersen finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Damon Arnold collected seven points and two steals.
Keola Bursey had four points and two rebounds. Kevin Cox had four points and three assists. Kyler Waldo added two points and two assists. Terrance Stahlman scored two points.
“We tried to pressure them and extend our defense full court, but they got loose a few times,” Steinhoff said.
“Offensively, we ran some really good stuff. Reno missed only one shot, so any time you have someone clicking like that, it’s really nice,” Korn said. “They covered Damon pretty well and he was able to make the right reads instead of trying to force shots. He’s really improving there.”
Seth Schenck paced New Haven with 19 points, two assists and two steals.
Kyle Ruediger added nine points, five rebounds and two assists.
Alex Poggas had three points and two steals. Ross Seitter had two points and five assists.
“Seth did a good job defending Arnold. We held him to seven points. Seth also shot the ball well. He had a good game,” Steinhoff said. “They bottled Ruediger up pretty good inside. Feddersen adds another dimension. I know he’s not at full strength, but he’s still a presence in the middle of their zone.”
St. Clair played Friday against Pacific and next week plays Tuesday at Salem and Friday at Hillsboro.
“I’m happy our guys haven’t quit,” Korn said. “We’re getting better every day and that’s what we’ve been looking for since day one.”
New Haven won Thursday at Wellsville 56-34, ended its regular season Friday against Owensville and hosts the Class 2 District 4 Tournament next week. The second-seeded Shamrocks meet seventh-seeded St. Vincent Monday at 8:30 p.m. Elsberry is the top seed.
“It’s good for the fans, community and kids to get to host the district tournament,” Steinhoff said. “Elsberry has a legitimate Division I player, who’s a 6-8 junior and is being recruited pretty heavily. He scored 42 points the other night against Montgomery County. Valle Catholic is seeded third and has a good team. We have to focus on St. Vincent, a team that’s always well coached.”