St. Anthony opened their postseason run against host Red Hill with a 73-42 victory at the Class 1A Bridgeport Regional Wednesday evening.
“I don’t think I’ve been that nervous all season long,” Rincker said. “You’re playing a team that has nothing to lose on their home court, the expectations you have, and it’s just a little bit unnerving.”
Red Hill opened the game’s scoring with a three from 6’2” junior guard Drake Allen. The Bulldogs failed to score on their opening possession. As Red Hill took control of the ball, the Salukis’ 5’11” junior guard Camren Ray tried to dribble the ball between his legs, but St. Anthony’s Logan Antrim stole it and darted upcourt. He missed the layup only for teammate Aaron Webb to catch the rebound and put it back to get the Bulldogs on the board and cut the lead to one.
“If you rely on steals, you set yourself up to be disappointed,” Rincker said. “But having guys that have that ability, Logan being one of them, who can ballhawk and guard is just another element as a coach you have to be aware of. You have to be careful because at the right moment it could spark you.”
On the ensuing possession, St. Anthony’s Jack Hoene drilled a three, extending the Bulldog’s lead to 5-3.
Just 13 seconds later, Webb drove the lane and made a bucket and a free throw on the foul on the play.
Red Hill would respond with another three by Allen cutting the St. Anthony lead to 8-6. Twelve of Red Hill’s 16 first quarter points would come from the three – the other two by 6’2” sophomore Anthony Jerrell. Webb would lead the Bulldogs in first quarter scoring with nine.
“They were bound to get into a rhythm and start making shots,” Rincker said. “ You saw that with Webby. He got to the basket and was comfortable with his three-pointers.”
St. Anthony’s Jaccob Dust heated up with nine of his game high 27 points in the second quarter – bothered by double and triple teams most of the night, led by Red Hill’s 6’7” senior center Nathan Wirth.
“I think it took him bit to feel himself around,” Rincker said. “Once he did, he found another gear, another level. I didn’t realize he had that many.”
The Bulldogs would take a 35-25 lead into halftime.
“They played like we expected. As the coaching staff asked the guys at halftime, that’s what we expected. Our players had that mindset, we took it to them,” said Rincker. “I was pretty confident coming out of the locker room for the second half and hearing the boys say that’s what they expected as well, we were going to find another level,” Rincker said.
The Bulldogs didn’t let off the gas in the third as they opened the quarter with back to back buckets by Dust extending their lead by 14. Red Hill would have lackluster scoring from their starters with Camren Ray leading the them with just three, and three others with just two. Webb closed out the third with back to back threes, as the Bulldog offense rattled off 23 points and limiting Red Hill to just nine.
Rincker said they try to not talk about wins and but rather the singular goal of competing.
“My thing has been since the early years when we got into sectionals is we talk about competing every day in practice,” Rincker said. “We compete every day in practice. We have a mindset every day that we’re playing an important game, at an important time, in an important way.”
For St. Anthony who go to 27-3 and will face NTC rival North Clay Friday for the championship, Dust had 27; Webb had 17; Antrim had 15; Hoene had 9; Fearday had 3; and Eli Moore had 2.
For Red Hill who finishes the season at 11-20, Drake Allen had 16; Anthony Jerrell had 10; Camren Ray and Nathan Wirth both had 7; and Josh Henry had 2.