St. Anthony’s first quarter effort in Friday night’s nonconference game against Casey-Westfield at the Enlow Center wasn’t the Bulldogs’ best. St. Anthony shot the ball well from the field but struggled from 3-point range, got beat on the boards and had some ball security issues.
The final five minutes of the first half alleviated some of those issues. St. Anthony still had a few turnovers, but the Bulldogs capitalized on some wide open looks from beyond the arc, rebounded a little stronger and worked their way to a nine-point lead at the break.
St. Anthony solved its ball security issues in the second half with just three turnovers in the fourth quarter and turned its nine-point halftime lead into a 21-point advantage through three quarters en route to a 72-45 victory on senior night at the Enlow Center.
“We started off kind of slow, but we eventually got into things,” St. Anthony senior Kit Koerner said. “We just cranked up the (defensive) pressure a little bit. We wanted to leave this place with a bang.”
Fellow senior James Jansen said, “In the huddle coach told us to pick it up. We definitely weren’t going to go out with a loss here.”
St. Anthony coach Mark Tovey said his team didn’t lose its edge despite being outrebounded and pushed around early.
“We rebounded very poorly defensively in the first quarter,” Tovey said. “They had six offensive rebounds in the first quarter and eight in the half. We didn’t panic and came back in the second quarter and outscored them pretty well.”
St. Anthony’s second quarter surge didn’t start until 5 minutes, 25 seconds remained in the first half but had its roots in a moment a minute earlier. That’s when Casey-Westfield center Clinton Scott headed to the bench with his second foul.
Scott had eight points and four rebounds and missed just one shot in the first half, but having their senior captain on the bench changed the Warriors’ dynamic. Casey-Westfield relied more on 3-point shots, made zero and were just 2-of-20 from the field in the second quarter.
“I don’t pay much attention to what other teams are doing except for looking at matchups,” Tovey said. “Scott is a strong kid, and he puts the ball on the floor and has a nice, soft touch. (But) you can’t score or rebound when you’re on the pine.”
Koerner gave St. Anthony its first lead of the game since consecutive baskets by Jansen at the beginning of the game when he sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Good ball movement both inside and outside for the Bulldogs had
Casey-Westfield out of position on Koerner’s wide-open 3-point look that gave St. Anthony a 23-21 lead.
Neither team scored for the next two minutes until Jansen came away with the ball after three consecutive turnovers in the span of 20 seconds and went coast-to-coast for a layup and an old-fashioned three-point play after being fouled.
Koerner hit another wide-open 3-pointer with 2:06 left in the second, and the Bulldogs made it a nine-point game with seconds remaining to play in the half when Jansen found Scott Deters alone in the left corner for a 3-pointer than put the Bulldogs up 32-23 at the break.
St. Anthony put the game away for good in the third quarter. The Bulldogs not only outscored Casey-Westfield 22-10 in the third quarter but also 18-12 in the fourth thanks to 12 second-half points from Ryan Ragland and 13 from Jansen.
“I don’t know the reason, but we seem to come out pretty good in the third quarter,” Tovey said. “It’s identifying our mistakes and fixing them.”
The Bulldogs’ leading scorers was a family affair with cousins Jansen and Ragland leading St. Anthony offensively. Jansen scored a game-high 22 and Ragland had 19 points on 64 percent shooting — second only to Ryan Schmitt’s 67 percent shooting.
“It’s great,” Jansen said. “We can get out and run and pressure the defense in the full court. The two of us have pretty good chemistry out there.”
That chemistry has a way of leading to some nifty passes and a layup line at the basket with both Jansen and Ragland able to finish strong inside despite both checking in at 5-foot-9.
“Not many people can guard those two at the same time,” Koerner said. “It’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”