St. Clair boys basketball started its first season under new Head Coach Tim Isgrig in rough fashion.
The Bulldogs opened the season with a 53-43 loss on the road at Valley Park (1-0) Tuesday after leading by two points at halftime.
St. Clair led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter and held a 19-17 advantage at the intermission. Valley Park came back to take the lead 33-31 at the end of the third period before putting the game away in the final frame.
“I loved the way we competed and battled in our first game of the year,” Isgrig said. “We only have three kids that played varsity last year so it was a challenge playing a road game early. It was a great environment and a neat gym to play in. It was loud and they had a good student section. Valley Park is a good team, they returned everybody from last year and will win 20-plus games this year.”
The Bulldogs fought back against the momentum shift, but couldn’t climb all the way back to even.
“In the second half they turned us over a couple times and got two dunks early, but we bounced back to cut it to two going into the fourth,” Isgrig said. “In the fourth, we didn’t take care of the ball and gave up some easy baskets. We cut it to three late but they scored off an offensive rebound to seal it, then made free throws.”
Isgrig said there were a lot of positives to take from the game.
“We played together on both sides of the court and our whole team was into the game,” he said. We had some good contributions from our bench. We have to learn from it and bounce back next week in the Sullivan tournament.”
Noah Richardson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14 and grabbed four rebounds and three steals.
Kamalei Bursey picked up six points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“He played with a lot of intensity and was a spark plug for us,” Isgrig said.
The Bulldogs got six points from Calvin Henry and five from TJ Griffith, both providing a spark off the bench. Henry also picked up three assists.
Other St. Clair scores came from Michael Hughes with four points, Jayce Decker three, Pepper Stark and Clay Banderman two apiece and Tyler Stark one.
Timmy Hoffman contributed six rebounds. Pepper Stark and Hughes each pulled down five rebounds.
The Hawks did most of their damage through junior Jeramy Shaw, who led all scorers with 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Ryan Courtney had 12 points for Valley Park and eight rebounds.
Lamont Rogers pulled down 12 rebounds and put up nine points.
The Hawks also got two points each from Jack Burkert, Vaughn Pickett and D’Mier Slayton.