Saints fall in sectionals to Spoofhounds
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, the Saint Paul Lutheran High School Saints varsity boys basketball team traveled to neutral-site host Excelsior Springs High School to take on the Maryville High School Spoofhounds in the first qualifying round of the MSHSAA State Show-Me Showdown. Despite playing solid basketball throughout the game, the Spoofhounds ended up with the victory, knocking off the Saints 70-55.
Two offensive teams played themselves to a surprisingly quiet first quarter, as the Spoofhounds earned a 10-9 first quarter advantage behind a balanced offensive attack from two standouts, senior Jalen Sundell and sophomore Tate Oglesby. The Saints got a hot start from junior Elijah Muehler (seven first quarter points) and a basket from senior Micah Gerdts in the nearly-even first period.
In an unusual turn of events for SPLHS, the Saints were held to nine points in the second quarter as well, marking one of their most anemic halves of the season, going into halftime behind 22-18.
Despite not scoring as efficiently as normal, the Saints used good defense to keep the game tight. A tighter intermission score might have been in order had Sundell not went on a seven-point tear of his own in the second. Muehler chipped in three more points for the Saints, while junior Dobrivoj Andrejic (two points) and senior Jose Alicea II (four) also helped the Saints close.
The offense came alive for the Saints in the third quarter, as the boys nearly matched their first half production with 17 points in the third. Muehler caught a stride, hitting both of his team’s first threes while adding a two-point field goal, while Alicea and Andrejic (three and two points, respectively) were joined by junior Micah Lemmons (four third quarter points) in the scoring column after an uncharacteristically slow start from the slasher.
Unfortunately for the Saints, however, they lagged defensively, allowing 26 points on six three pointers, two twos, and three made free throws. Oglesby led the charge with nine points in the quarter. This created a 48-35 advantage for the Spoofhounds heading into the fourth quarter.
The Saints knew they’d have to play practically perfect basketball in the final frame to come out on top, and they did what they could offensively. Senior Mark Allen - held scoreless through three periods - was able to find bottoms on two three pointers, while Alicea put in seven points and Lemmons nailed a three. Andrejic hit the second of two free throws while also adding a two-pointer. Muehler, however, was only able to add one point in the quarter, hitting on the second of two free throw attempts following a Sundell technical foul.
Those contributions tallied up to 20 points, but they’d have to score 13 more points than they allowed in the quarter to tie the game up, so they’d have to hold the potent Maryville offense to just seven points. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so, instead allowing 22 points in the quarter with the majority (13 points) coming from the foul line, as the Saints were forced to foul to stay alive. As Maryville’s free throws kept falling, so did the chances the Saints would win, and eventually, the buzzer sounded and St. Paul had fallen 70-55.
Despite the lack of fourth quarter scoring, Muehler still led his team with 19 points in the game. Alicea followed closely, ending with 14 points. The Saints connected on only five three-pointers, a lower amount than usual for the team.
On Saturday, March 3, Maryville ended up falling to Hogan Prep Academy Charter High School, 57-47.
For the Saints, the loss signaled the end of the season. They finished 22-4 (7-0 in the I-70 Conference).