Defense helped the St. Mary’s Saints pick up a big win on Saturday.
St. Mary’s took command early in the second half, then held off a late comeback bid by the Legacy Sabers to finish off a 58-49 West Region victory at the Bismarck Event Center.
“We’ve been talking about it here for the last couple weeks that we’re pretty close to being a pretty good basketball team,” Saints coach Brent Dekok said. “But to be a good basketball team, you’ve got to be consistent on the details and you’ve got to take care of the little things. You’ve got to rebound, you’ve got to close out, you’ve got to help each other, you’ve got to communicate. And we did those things tonight. And we got the ball to go down, we made some buckets.
“It was good to see. The kids played extremely resilient, played extremely hard.”
St. Mary’s took the lead late in the first half and built a 19-point lead with a big surge to start the second half.
The Saints held the Sabers without a field goal over the final 3:46 of the first half and the opening 6:28 of the second half. St. Mary’s finished the first half on a 14-3 run, including seven straight over the final 1:13, to take a 32-26 halftime lead.
Legacy led for much of the first half after opening the game on a 7-2 run, building a seven-point lead and taking a five-point lead on back-to-back baskets by Logan Wetzel and Rhett Clements with 5:07 to go before the break.
But after Ben Patton hit a runner to even the score at 25-25 with 3:47 left in the first half, Legacy managed just one free throw the rest of the way before the break, allowing St. Mary’s to take the lead.
Jaxon Wiseman, who finished with a game-high 18 points, converted a three-point play and Nick Schumacher hit four straight free throws in the final 15 seconds to give the Saints a six-point lead at the intermission.
St. Mary’s opened the second half scoring 13 consecutive points, stretching the lead to 45-26 on a Jackson Huller 3-pointer.
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The Saints held Legacy without a field goal until Rhett Clements converted a three-point play with 11:32 left in the half.
“We were doing things right,” Dekok said. “We were getting in passing lanes, we were active with our hands, we were getting in the right spots, our rotations were good. We did a really good job.”
Wiseman had a big game for the Saints (4-9, 4-8 West Region), and Drew Dosch and Uhler hit big shots in the second half for St. Mary’s.
“You’ve got to look for your leaders,” Dekok said. “Those three guys … they’ve proven they’re pretty good players in this league. They have to keep showing up, being consistent.”
The Saints weren’t out of the woods yet despite the big lead.
Legacy went on a 14-2 run to draw within 47-40 with just under seven minutes to go. Minutes later, a 9-1 burst made it a one-possession game as the lead dwindled to 52-49 with 2:39 left.
“Give coach (Jason) Horner a ton of credit. In this league, there’s no free wins. There’s so many good coaches,” Dekok said. “Coach Horner made some nice adjustments, threw that zone out there -- and that’s on me, I didn’t have our kids prepared to do it -- but we made some big shots when we needed them to hold on and get a ‘W.’”
Uhler’s running jumper with 1:25 left made it a 54-49 Saints lead. Thomas Jackson added a short-range jumper and Uhler cashed in on a pair of free throws with 23 seconds remaining to finish off the victory.
Wiseman scored a game-high 18 points for the Saints. Uhler and Dosch each finished with nine.
Rhett Clements led Legacy (6-6, 5-6 West Region) with 15. Zander Alberts added 12.
Legacy travels to Mandan on Tuesday, while St. Mary’s visits Williston on Friday.