Saints fall late in shootout with California

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

By Nathan Gerdts

Sports Reporter

A new season of high school basketball started off with a strong performance by the Saint Paul Saints, but not the desired result.

The Saints came up just short of California 70-69 last Friday night at Weis Gymnasium in a shootout that opened the 2016-2017 season.

"It was a tough loss," said Saints head coach Monte Pitsch. "I thought our kids really battled. California is very quick, athletic and physical."

Elijah Muehler came out hot early and poured in eight points in the first quarter. Triples from Muehler and Micah Lemmons kept the Saints close, but the Mustangs still led 34-28 at halftime.

"I thought our bench players really gave us some energy when they were on the floor," Pitsch said. "Nemanja Skocajic, Micah Gerdts, Peyton Kusel and Ryan Kollbaum gave us some real steady play off the bench."

A pair of three-pointers from Jose Alicea and eight points in the third quarter from Muehler helped Saint Paul get closer, then the three ball put the Saints over the top.

Muehler knocked down two more treys in the final period, and Kusel splashed home a three that tied the game at 69 with 15 seconds.

Jordan Geiser went coast to coast for California and was fouled with nine ticks left. Geiser hit the second of two free throw attempts to take the lead.

The Saints would chuck up a long three and have a put-back attempt at the buzzer, but they could not come through.

Muehler netted 26 points. Alicea scored a career-high 13 points, and Lemmons added 12 points. The Saints will next host Lexington this coming Monday.

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