Being involved in a number of close games this season, St. Clair finally had one go in its favor Thursday at Northwest High School.
The Bulldogs (2-6), who had lost three straight games by a combined eight points, pulled off a 45-37 boys basketball victory over the Lions.
“We needed to win a game like that, one that went down the stretch and one where we held on to the lead in the end,” said St. Clair Head Coach Casey Korn. “We’ve been in that same position for our last five games. It was nice to hold the lead and extend it. Even in our overtime win over Owensville, we didn’t hold the lead at the end of the fourth quarter.”
Northwest (1-10) held leads of 11-10 after one quarter and 16-13 at halftime.
St. Clair got things going in the second half with 16 points in both the third and fourth quarters to outscore the Lions, 32-21.
The Bulldogs held a 29-28 advantage after three quarters.
“Northwest attacked us with their zone in the first half. We settled for jump shots, and they weren’t falling,” Korn said. “We made shots in the second half and were strong with the ball. Our defense picked up and we rebounded the ball, which led to some transition opportunities.”
Damon Arnold paced the Bulldogs with 12 points, two rebounds and two assists.
“Damon scored eight points in a minute-and-a-half in the second half, two three-pointers and a jumper, which really got us going,” Korn said.
Reno Jones added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Keola Bursey finished the game with nine points and seven rebounds.
Gavin Marler chipped in with five points. Charlie Fuchs and Kyler Waldo both scored four points. Fuchs added four rebounds. Waldo had four assists.
Kevin Cox had one point, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Also playing were Harley Love, Darrell Martin and Wyatt Wachter. Martin and Wachter both grabbed two rebounds.
“Reno and Damon are going to have to do our scoring night in and night out,” Korn said. “What we need is a third and fourth person to step up and help us score points. It can vary from game to game. In this game, it was Keola Bursey, who played very well. We have other guys like Kyler Waldo and Harley Love who certainly are capable of doing that.”
Jacob Santos led Northwest with 12 points. Alex Al-Amami added eight points.
It was a big win for the Bulldogs and Korn, who graduated from Northwest.
“It’s always nice to go back and compete against the people who helped me along the way,” Korn said.
It was a clean sweep for the Bulldogs, who also defeated Northwest in the freshman and junior varsity games.
St. Clair is seeded eighth for next week’s Washington Tournament. The Bulldogs open against top-seeded Washington Monday at 6 p.m.
“It’s a good tournament year in and year out. Bayless being the fourth seed says how deep it is. It was a tough tournament to seed,” Korn said. “Washington has been in a bit of a lull lately without (Jacob) Mulkey, but he’s back and they’ll be ready to play in their own tournament. (Ronnie) Suggs is one of the best players in the state and (Brad) Carpenter can knock down threes. Grant (Young) is a good coach and a great guy. We’ve talked a lot together about basketball. We just want to have a competitive tournament and give ourselves a chance to win games.”