More patience on offense helped fuel the defense.

That helped power a big second half for the Century Patriots, who remained unbeaten with a big win over St. Mary’s on Thursday.

The state’s top-ranked team used a 10-1 run early in the second half to pull away and went on to beat the second-ranked Saints 64-49 at the Century gym. The boys game was not finished when the Tribune went to press due to early deadlines.

“I think the big thing was our offense allowed us to get back on defense and make them play 5-on-5,” Century coach Ron Metz said. “In the first half, we had some silly turnovers, we tried to force some things and then they got out in transition. They’re a talented team and when you have to scramble to find their shooters and their scorers … I thought we gave them a lot of looks that if we would have been a little patient on the offensive end and got a better situation where we could get back in transition, we’d have been better off there.

“That was huge, our ability to execute offensively and then once we did get something good, or even if we didn’t score we were able to transition into a better halfcourt defense.”

“They were more aggressive than us, that’s what the frustrating thing was,” St. Mary’s coach Shannon Copas said. “A lot of loose balls, a lot of rebounds went to them.”

The Patriots never trailed in the game, using a 7-0 run early to take a 12-5 lead, and building a 10-point advantage in the first half.

But St. Mary’s battled back, pulling within 35-30 at the intermission, and got within four on a Taylor Gerving free throw early in the second half.

“We worked hard to get there,” Copas said. “We made a little run with our transition, got the ball up the floor and were feeling good about our spacing, and in the second half we just didn’t get quite the same looks and that was the difference in the ball game there.”

Chloe Markovic and Lilly Keplin hit 3-pointers and Bailee Otterness scored on a putback and off an assist from Keplin during a 10-1 burst that stretched Century’s lead to 42-31.

Four minutes later, another quick 7-0 run gave Century a 56-38 lead on Mariya Kinnebrew’s runner with 8:11 remaining. The Patriots built a 19-point lead en route to the victory, running their overall record to 11-0 and their West Region mark to 8-0.

The Patriots spread the offense around, with eight players reaching the scoring column, led by Kinnebrew with 13 and Keplin with 12. Katelyn Selensky and Otterness each finished with nine, and Lauren Ware and Markovic each had seven.

The Saints (8-2, 6-1 West Region) got 12 from Gerving and 10 from Tonya Dvorak. Kaitlyn Wanner finished with nine.

“We’ve got to go to work,” Copas said. “They’re a tough team, well-coached, they’re aggressive, they get after it and they get you out of your halfcourt with that ball pressure and so we learned from it and we go back to work and we get better.”

The Patriots remained unbeaten, but Metz knows there’s a lot of season ahead.

“There’s a lot of work ahead,” Metz said “We’re about midway through – we have Jamestown left for the first time we play anybody, and then we start to play everybody a second time. That’s a true test in this league, how well you can do the second time vs. the first time. Everybody’s getting better.”

St. Mary’s travels to Turtle Mountain today, while Century returns to action on Thursday, Jan 18, traveling to Jamestown.

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