The Effingham Flaming Hearts used a combined 50 points from Parker Wolfe (29) and Nate Thompson (21) to help defeat the St. Anthony Bulldogs Saturday 75-54 at the Enlow Center.
“Anytime we play St. Anthony, it doesn’t matter who’s the favorite or who’s doing what during the season, this crosstown rival is such an equalizer,” said Effingham head coach Obie Farmer. “We’ve been doing pretty well in the Apollo in our season. The kids know each other, so that rivalry is such an equalizer.
“[Parker Wolfe and Nate Thompson] are tough kids to stop. Nate is long and can get to the basket. He had some big dunks. I know they’re only worth two points, but you can’t gauge how much energy it helps us with.”
When Farmer was asked how he would grade his team in the win, he gave them an A-minus.
“I would give it a 93 percent,” Farmer said. “They did some really good stuff. They brought effort and energy the entire game. There’s things for us to work on, but I’m very happy with the product that they put on the floor.”
The two teams were neck-and-neck to start the first quarter, with St. Anthony getting out to a 5-3 lead. Effingham’s Garrett Wolfe got a layup to go to tie things at five, followed by a Parker Wolfe layup after poking the ball free and Jacob Stoneburner passing the ball up ahead to him. But St. Anthony’s Kennan Walsh got a layup to fall to tie things at seven.
“I feel like it was a game of runs there in the first half,” said St. Anthony head coach Cody Rincker. “They just have more firepower than we have.”
But the Hearts closed out the quarter on an 11-2 run, including another steal and layup from Wolfe, followed by a putback and a slam dunk from Thompson in the closing seconds of the first to take an 18-9 lead.
The Flaming Hearts extended the lead to 13 at 21-9, but the Bulldogs responded with a run of their own, starting with consecutive threes and a layup from Walsh.
With the types of runs both teams would go on, it was safe to assume both teams liked playing fast.
“I was worried about what offense they would be running,” Farmer said. “Then they came out and ran the same offense as we run, which is nice. It’s the same thing we practice every day against. We run that offense as a drill, where to go and how to hedge it.”
After a putback from Stoneburner, Walsh connected on his third three of the quarter, followed by a steal from Logan Antrim he took for a layup to make it a 3-point game at 25-22 with 2:22 remaining in the half.
“I thought we played assertive,” Rincker said. “We didn’t play timid or scared. We encourage everybody to attack the hoop. I was very happy with where and when [Walsh] was getting his shots and that he was finishing them.”
“They’re a really good ballclub,” Farmer said. “There’s no quit in that team, they’re coached up too well for that. They’re a team that has 110 percent effort.”
“Their spurts lasted a little longer than ours did,” Rincker said. “Therefor, we could never crawl back enough to get to the hump. We didn’t get enough stops to cut into the deficit.”
Effingham responded with another big run, this time a 9-0 run with a pair of steals and layups for Parker Wolfe, as well as a layup for Stoneburner.
Antrim connected on a three before Thompson sank a pair of free throws to put Effingham up 36-25 at halftime.
The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead back down to single digits in the third quarter after Antrim got three layups to go in as many trips down the floor to make it 47-39, but after a steal and layup for Parker Wolfe, as well as two made three throws, the Harts held a 53-41 lead at the end of three.
That was as close as the Bulldogs would come the rest of the way, as Effingham all but put the finishing touches on when Thompson got his second dunk of the game to go.
Wolfe led all scorers with 29 points, while Thompson added 21. Stoneburner scored 12, while Dalton Fox scored six. Garrett Wolfe scored four while Max Hardiek scored three.
For the Bulldogs, Walsh led with 19, with Antrim 13 of his 19 points in the second half. Seth Hotze scored six, while Craig Croy and Grant Nuxoll each scored five. Ty Wiedman scored one.