Saints knocked from unbeaten status in I-70
Three nights after surviving a scare at home in claiming a 51-48 non-conference victory over Pilot Grove last week Tuesday, Monte Pitsch's Saint Paul Saints got off to a slow start. They had their bid to claim a second straight I-70 Conference regular-season title but took a hit, losing 63-49 to Wellington at home.
Wellington 63, at Saint Paul 49
The Tigers roared from the opening tip, hitting shots from all over the floor and shutting down Saint Paul's offense, building a 17-10 advantage.
On the back of Alex Rodenberg and the long-range shot, the Tigers continued their strong play in the second quarter, improving their lead to 33-22.
"Wellington came out and hit seven threes in the first half," Pitsch said. "We were chasing them all over the place in the first half. We tried several defenses, but it didn't matter."
The Saints not only had trouble stopping Wellington, but they also had to do it with substitutes on the floor.
"Foul trouble also was an issue in the first half," Pitsch said.
Rodenberg drained five of the first-half three-point bombs.
The lead continued to grow in the third quarter, the Tigers winning it 12-8 and holding a 45-30 edge.
"We did some nice things in a little comeback," Pitsch said.
The Saints got within nine points with about two minutes to play.
"But they were very solid from the free-throw line down the stretch," Pitsch said.
In all, the Tigers spent much of the game at the line, hitting two-thirds of their 42 attempts.
Rodenberg led the Tigers with 21 points. Levi Banner added 13 points and Tristan Green 13, with Drew Bunch scoring nine.
Peter Lemmons pumped in 19 points to top the Saints. Simon Schmidt finished with 11 points.
Peyton Mays had five points, and Eric Allen four points, Luke Stuenkel four points and six rebounds and Peyton Kusel four points, four steals and two assists.
at Saint Paul 51, Pilot Grove 48
Pilot Grove led by two points with two minutes to play.
The Saints' defense stepped up and made a stop, Allen following with an important three-point shot for a 49-48 lead.
About a minute later. Lemmons was fouled and hit both halves of a one-and-one opportunity from the free-throw line.
The Saints dodged a three-point attempt to tie the game, but they couldn't convert the front end of a one-and-one chance, leaving the door ajar.
"We deflected a pass, which made the three-point attempt (just ahead of the final buzzer) a little rushed, and it bounced off the rim," Pitsch said.
"We were a little surprised to see it not go in as Pilot Grove banked in a 55-foot shot to end the first half and banked in a long three to end the third quarter."
The Saints trailed 15-14 after the first quarter but led 26-23 at the half and 39-37 going to the fourth quarter.
"I was proud of our kids," Pitsch said. "A lot of things didn't go according to plan, but they kept battling.
Lemmons and Allen tied for team-high scoring with 14 points apiece.
"Simon Schmidt played a nice game and had a season-high 11 points on five of six shooting," Pitsch said.
"We got a lift from Peyton Mays coming off the bench in the third quarter as he scored on two offensive rebounds and put-backs."
The Tigers played without leading scorer Mason Schlotzhauer.