St. Anthony’s Jack Hoene looks to shoot around Pleasant Plains’ Justin Guernsey during their opening round game of the 7th Annual Christmas Classic at Teutopolis High School Thursday evening. Chet Piotrowski Jr./Piotrowski Studios

St. Anthony had a six point lead at halftime over an injury-depleted Class 2A Pleasant Plains team and saw it slip away in the third quarter to “mental mistakes” according to Bulldog head coach Cody Rincker which cost them the lead and the game to the Cardinals, 52-49 during their opening day game of the 7th Annual Christmas Classic at Teutopolis High School Thursday evening.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “A little frustrating that we had some mental lapses defensively at times that’s just not normal for us. But you know what...that’s a good ball team.”

The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game on a set play with 5.3 seconds left. Antrim received the pass and attempted a three over a Cardinals double team that bounced off the rim giving the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.

“I was hoping he would be a little more open than that,” Rincker said. “We sent Webby (Aaron Webb) out in the corner thinking we could sneak him over there for a three on that side. We then had to pass it to Antrim. There wasn’t quite enough time to get it to Hoene. We had five seconds so we’re limited to what we could do. That’s something we have to learn as a team. Especially in tournaments like these. In those situations, we need to go get a layup, then foul, and extend the game a little more.”

St. Anthony finished the first quarter down 10-8 as a fadeaway jumper by Jaccob Dust bounced off the rim.

Dust took a pass and drove to the hoop and was fouled making the one free throw attempt tieing the game at 10 a piece.

The Bulldogs put on a small run over their own with a bucket by Dust and six straight points by Jack Hoene making the score 18-12 with over 4 minutes of the second quarter played.

Hoene grabbed a rebound off a Dust miss and put his attempt in and was fouled. He made his free throw attempt giving the Bulldogs a 21-12 advantage before the Cardinals’ Corgan Greer made a bucket and a Nick Savage free throw after he split the Bulldogs’ defense of Kaden Feaday and Jack Elder resulting in a foul.

The Bulldogs took a 21-15 into the half.

St. Anthony saw themselves get outscored 21-13 in the third quarter. They had a chance to tie the score with time winding down in the third. Jaccob Dust collapsed down on the rim and blocked what appeared to be a open layup at first by Cardinals’ Justin Guernsey. Kaden Fearday took the outlet pass but was called for a charge with .4 seconds left in the third giving Pleasant Plains a 36-34 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

St. Anthony’s Webb drove down to the baseline and picked up his dribble looking to make a pass, only to dip under a Pleasant Plains defender and making a 5 footer tieing the game at 36.

Pleasant Plains’ Guernsey put a bucket in over St. Anthony’s Dust giving them a 41-39 lead with halfway through the fourth quarter. But then the Cardinals would force a Bulldog miscue.

A Pleasant Plains inbound pass at midcourt went over St. Anthony’s Jack Hoene to an open Nick Savage who went in for an uncontested layup increased the Cardinals’ lead to 48-42.

“We just fell asleep,” Rincker said. “We got overzealous and they slipped back there and got a layup at an inopportune time for us.”

With 61 seconds left, St. Anthony’ Hoene attempted to inbound the ball when his intended target, a wide open Dust, was tripped and was called for their second 5 second inbound violation giving the ball back to the Cardinals.

Down by three with 37 seconds left, the Bulldog’s Logan Antrim took a Hoene pass to cut the lead to 50-49.

Guernsey would make two free throws with 19 seconds left leading up to the Bulldogs set play with 5 seconds left.

“These next two weeks are going to be a grind. I’m more interested on how we play tomorrow.”

The Bulldogs take their 10-1 record into the second day of the tournament against a Mattoon team who lost their starting point guard, Meade Johnson, to a devastating leg injury after landing awkwardly trying to to block a Lincoln Way East shot attempt early in the first quarter of the opening tournament game.

“We can’t dwell on it. We have come back to play at 9:30 tomorrow morning against a solid Mattoon team that plays an aggressive style and we have to be ready to bounce back,” Rincker said.

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