While they were in the game all the way, the St. Clair Bulldogs never put a major run together in their opening round contest of the 50th Annual Union Boys Basketball Tournament.
Fifth-seeded Lutheran South held a slim lead for most of the night and defeated fourth-seeded St. Clair Monday at Union High School, 55-47.
“We just didn’t play very good defense. Our objective was for them to beat us from the outside and we gave up too many inside baskets,” said St. Clair Head Coach Greg Dunigan. “On offense, we had times where we could of made the extra pass. We wanted to go inside more often and didn’t do it.”
The Bulldogs (6-12) play eighth-seeded Jefferson (0-11) in the consolation semifinals Thursday at 6 p.m.
The Lancers (7-9) meet top-seeded Festus (13-3) in the championship semifinals Friday at 6 p.m.
Neyko Dominguez led St. Clair in the scoring column with 21 points, 17 coming in the second half.
Adam Brott gave the Bulldogs a spark in the first half, finishing the game with 12 points.
Evan Powell chipped in with five points. Sean Arnold added four points. Austin Gotway scored three points. Evan Murphy had two points. Justin Nunn and Will Rolley also played.
“We got some good minutes from Sean Arnold,” Dunigan said.
Parker Van Nest, a 6-0 sophomore guard, led three Lancers in double figures with 17 points.
Brendan Kurtz added 11 points. Jim Hudson had 10 points.
Trailing 15-8 after one quarter, St. Clair opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to tie the game 15-15 with 6:03 left on the clock.
Baskets by Brott and Arnold and a three-pointer by Gotway highlighted the run.
Lutheran South quickly regained the lead and held the advantage for the remainder of the contest.
The Lancers led 26-23 at halftime and outscored St. Clair 10-4 in the third quarter to increase their lead to 36-27 heading into the final eight minutes.
“We went through a four-minute or so spurt in the third quarter when we were down by around six or seven points and missed free throws and some easy baskets that would of maybe got us over the hump,” Dunigan said. “We played hard, but not smart at times.”
Led by Dominguez, St. Clair managed to put 20 points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, but often exchanged baskets or sent the Lancers to the free-throw line, not allowing the Bulldogs to make up any ground.
St. Clair got as close as six points with 20 seconds left in the game and ended with an eight-point loss.
“Hopefully we can bounce back on Thursday and play for a trophy on Saturday,” Dunigan said.
Top-seeded Festus cruised to a 76-36 win over eighth-seeded Jefferson in Monday’s other first-round contest.
The Tigers held leads of 27-5 after one quarter, 44-15 at halftime and 62-25 after three quarters.
Collin Beffa led four Tigers in double figures with 19 points.
Jeremy Moss, Austin Schwent and Travis Spraul each scored 10 points.
Dylan Newcomer led Jefferson with 15 points.