Saints place fourth in state tournament

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
The SPLHS Saints basketball players and coaches pose for a team photo following their final game at the Show-Me Shootout at Missouri State University’s JQH Arena. The team finished fourth overall in the tournament.
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After a pair of heart-stopping victories in the sectional and quarterfinal rounds of the Class 3 Missouri state basketball tournament, the Saint Paul Lutheran High School Saints traveled to Missouri State University’s JQH Arena for the Show-Me Shootout on March 7-8. The Saints would ultimately finish fourth after difficult matchups with the Springfield Catholic High School Fightin’ Irish and the Charleston High School Blue Jays.

Congratulations to the Saints on their incredible season!

Thursday, March 7 — Class 3 Semifinals — JQH Arena
Saint Paul Lutheran 41
Springfield Catholic 71

In their semifinal matchup, the Saints came in with a natural disadvantage as the neutral-site contest versus Springfield Catholic was practically in the Fightin’ Irish’s backyard. Early momentum gained by SC helped them coast to the victory despite a better second-half performance for the Saints.

While their prior matchup (quarterfinals, St. Michael the Archangel High School) got off to a miserable start for the Saints, they were able to get themselves hot and closed the first quarter out with just a narrow hole to dig out of. Heading into the second quarter in the semifinals, however, the Saints found themselves down 20-5. The advantage grew by five points heading into the halftime intermission, as a better defensive performance held the Irish to just 13 points despite offensive woes keeping them from cutting into the lead.

Both teams’ biggest offensive quarters came in the third quarter, as the Saints were outscored 22-17 and the score moved to 55-30.

It was more of the same for both sides in the fourth quarter, as the Irish would outscore the Saints by five points en route to capping the game at its final tally, 71-41.

The Saints were outrebounded 47-36 while shooting just 17 percent on three-point field goals. They shot just 27 percent from the floor in the matchup, although video analysis reveals a staunch defensive performance played a large role in the inefficient offensive showing for the Saints.

Two players cracked double-digits for the Saints, as senior Dobrivoj Andrejic collected team-highs in points (16), rebounds (10), and steals (three). Senior Elijah Muehler put in 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds. All other Saints were held to five points or less.

With the loss, the Saints (27-2) found themselves locked in to a third-place matchup the following day, where they would take on a Charleston High School program coming off a 23-point loss in their semifinal matchup.

Springfield Catholic (29-3) moved on to the championship match against Vashon High School. Vashon would prevail, 69-59.

Saint Paul Lutheran 58
Charleston 71

An early deficit proved to be just too much for the Saints to overcome in their matchup with the Charleston Blue Jays as the Saints would fall in the third-place matchup, 71-58.

For the third straight game, the Saints fell behind early on as the Jays took a 20-5 lead into the second quarter.

The middle quarters were much more favorable to the Saints, however, as SPLHS would use a 20-16 second quarter margin to help them get the deficit down to just 11 points, and they would enter the fourth quarter trailing 53-44.

The fourth quarter was an even affair, but ultimately wouldn’t be enough to help them dig out of the early 15-point hole. When all was said and done, the Saints ultimately would be on the losing end of the 71-58 final score.

Rebounding was again one of the key areas of separation, as Charleston outrebounded the Saints, 44-23.

They would win the turnover battle, however, forcing 18 Blue Jays errors compared to committing 12 turnovers of their own.

Elijah Muehler led the team in scoring, cashing in on five three-point field goals en route to a 24 point performance. Fellow seniors Dobrivoj Andrejic finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Micah Lemmons ended his final high school contest with nine points.

Andrejic and Lemmons also had three steals piece, while Muehler and sophomore Justin Griffith snagged a pair each.

SPLHS concluded their season with an extraordinary 27-3 record after rattling off 27 straight victories.

Their fourth-place finish is cause for celebration, and The Concordian congratulates Saint Paul Lutheran’s committed basketball players, coaches, and fans for a season that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

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