Saints boys come out on top in rivalry matchup
On Friday, Jan. 26, the Concordia High School Orioles junior varsity and varsity basketball teams made their way across town to Saint Paul Lutheran High School for matchups with the Saints. The varsity Saints boys gave the crowd something to go home cheering over with the win.
For as methodical and defensive as the girls matchup began, the boys matchup was the exact opposite, as the Saints (ranked ninth in the state in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association’s Class 3 poll) and Orioles combined for 29 first quarter points (and a 17-12 Saints advantage) and 30 in the second (15 points per team).
They did it behind nine point first-halves from SPLHS juniors Dobrivoy Andrejic and Micah Lemmons, and an eight-point half for senior Mark Allen, while Concordia got nine points off the bench from senior Kade Meineka in a half that featured some pretty evenly-distributed scoring (six players scored at least two points in the first half for CHS).
CHS juniors Matthew Gatewood (five points), Tad Deatherage (three) and SPLHS junior Elijah Muehler (five) combined for just 13 first half points.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, the second half was a little bit different. While Deatherage never did find his groove on offense (he finished with three points) and, despite Gatewood being able to put up seven points in the second half, Muehler finally got himself rolling.
He matched his first-half performance in the third quarter with five points as the two teams tied the quarter 12-12 and the Saints entered the fourth quarter up by five points.
Muehler kicked it up a few notches in the fourth, hitting a three-pointer and a two-pointer, in addition to five free throws, as he and Lemmons (four points) scored all 14 of the Saints fourth-quarter points en-route to earning a 58-46 victory—though the score makes the game seem much less contested than it truly was.
Concordia’s Kade Meineka had a memorable game, as he came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points. Gatewood finished with 12, and senior Cameron Cooper made a nice contribution with eight points, as well, for the Orioles.
Junior Cameron Kelly was essentially a non-factor on offense, as the stout post defense supplied by the Saints stalled Kelly to contributing only four points.
Concordia isn’t the only team that has watched Elijah Muehler take a game over down the stretch, but his game-high 20 points were also aided by solid scoring performances by Lemmons (15 points), Allen (11) and Andrejic (nine).
With the victory, the Saints advance to 15-2 (4-0 in conference).
Their only losses came to a solid Wellington-Napoleon High School team in the Lafayette County Tournament championship on Jan. 6 and Sacred Heart High School — currently the top team in Class 2, according to the MBCA poll — on Jan. 15. They are hands-down one of the top teams in the area and will be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch.
With the loss, the Orioles fall to 11-8 (2-1 in conference). Their record is rather misleading — the conference loss to the Saints marks the first non-tournament game the Orioles have lost.
Before this game, the Orioles were 8-0 in non-tournament games, but only 3-7 in tournament games.
Despite the anomaly, the Orioles are trending downward, having lost six of their last 10 games. Regardless, they have plenty of time to reverse their fortunes and gain some momentum in the upcoming weeks, as their schedule features no tournament games and a bunch of matchups in which they should like their chances.
It is far too early to count the Orioles out of a deep run in the district tournament.