BRISTOL â€• No matter how many points St. Paul boys basketball scored Tuesday night, Holy Cross always had an answer.
The Crusaders bested the Falcons 79-67 in Bristol with a fast-paced game that capitalized on St. Paulâ€™s mistakes. Even as the Falcons offense improved in the second half, when they scored almost two thirds of its points, Holy Cross responded point-for-point and did not allow any encroachment on its halftime lead.
Junior captain Jamie Leggett posted 34 points in the loss as he carried St. Paulâ€™s second-half surge. Leggett scored 27 points after halftime and finished with 16 made free throws, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.
Leggett was nearly matched by Holy Cross sophomore Elijah Parker, who led his team with 30 points and challenged the Falcons every time he touched the ball.
â€śWe got off to a horrific start and it set the tone,â€ť St. Paul head coach Steve Phelps said. â€śWe were scrambling and battling uphill from our first possession, so we made it tough on ourselves and gave the opponent a great deal of confidence.â€ť
After letting the Crusaders build a lead in the second quarter, St. Paul improved their scoring output in the second with half more focus and urgency on offense. Unfortunately for the Falcons, scoring more did not impact Holy Crossâ€™ offense as the Crusaders outscored them 19-18 in the third quarter.
St. Paul nearly entered the fourth quarter facing a 10-point deficit, but Peyton Mullins drilled his third three of the game to make it 13. Mullins was one of three Crusaders to score at least six points in the third quarter as they continued to protect their lead.
Continuing to fight back, the Falcons scored 26 points in the fourth quarter, but could not build a run as they allowed 25 points to Holy Cross. St. Paul brought the score within six points late in the period, but were forced to use their fouls as time became scarce.
â€śWe just had a sense of urgency in the second half that we didnâ€™t have in the first half,â€ť Leggett said.
The Falcons kept the game close for the majority of the first quarter and trailed 14-12 as the period neared its end. Holy Cross started to build its lead then, when Zac Blaschke made a three-pointer from the left corner while getting fouled and sent the Crusaders into the second period with a five-point lead.
Holy Cross took complete control of the tempo and only added to its lead in the second quarter behind 10 points from Parker. Parker had 30 points for the game to lead his team as the Crusadersâ€™ high-speed style of play kept St. Paul off balance.
No Falcons player had more than two points in the second period while Holy Cross stretched its lead to 12 points by halftime.
â€śWe had seven turnovers in the first half and it was a lot of careless stuff,â€ť senior captain Matt Palmieri said. â€śIt wasnâ€™t even people [guarding] us, it was balls dribbling off our feet. I feel like we came together more [in the second half].â€ť
Up next for the Falcons will be a rematch with undefeated Naugatuck on Friday at 7 p.m. St. Paul will look to enact its revenge on the road as the Greyhounds left Bristol on Jan. 11 with a 66-63 victory.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOLY CROSS 79, ST. PAUL 67
At St. Paul
St. Paul 13 10 18 26 - 67
Holy Cross 18 17 19 25 - 79
ST. PAUL: Ben Bochicchio 2-0-5, Mekhi Petteway 1-0-2, Erik Suzio 4-1-9, Logan Rembish 2-1-5, John Gaffney 2-0-5, Jamie Leggett 8-16-34, Matt Palmieri 1-2-5, Lionel Legare 0-2-2. Totals 20-22-67.
HOLY CROSS: Ashton Sannasi 8-4-20, Peyton Mullins 3-0-9, Elijah Parker 12-5-30, Nate Muniz 2-0-4, Joe Dane 2-0-4, Zac Blaschke 1-1-4, Kaiden Dunn 1-0-3, Kevin Matiz 2-1-5. Totals 31-11-79.
Three-point goals: Bochicchio (SP), Mullins (HC) 3, Leggett (SP) 2, Palmieri (SP), Parker (HC), Blaschke (HC), Dunn (HC), Gaffney (SP).
Records: St. Paul 7-4, Holy Cross 11-4.