St. Mary’s John Sharper missed the game’s opening shot, but he and the rest of the aggressive Panthers team didn’t miss much else as they cruised to a 78-50 win over St. Joseph’s on Friday night.
Although St. Mary’s controlled the game from the outset, the Panthers missed several layups in the opening quarter that gave the Pilots an opportunity to keep pace with the scrappier Panthers team.
The Pilots’ window of opportunity quickly slammed shut.
After trailing by two early, St. Mary’s utilized a full-court press to force turnovers and disrupt St. Joseph’s offense. At the end of the first period, the Panthers led by seven and never looked back.
With the win, St. Mary’s improves to 20-4 overall and 8-0 in the Bay Shore Athletic League. St. Joseph’s, meantime, drops to 14-10 and 5-4.
“I liked everything about it,” St. Mary’s head coach Jose Caraballo said following the Panthers’ dominating victory. “The kids played hard tonight. They’ve been playing at a pretty high level and they continue to play hard. We’ve got a lot of good chemistry and we play pretty good defense.”
Continuing to press in the second quarter, St. Mary’s built a substantial lead heading into the locker room. Chase Moore and Sharper paced St. Mary’s with 10 and 11 first half points, respectively, on their way to scoring a game-high 18 points each. At the break, the Panthers were up 43-21.
As Cal football coach Tom Holmoe eyed his potential prized recruit Lorenzo Alexander — who starred for the Panthers’ football team last fall and has verbally committed to Cal — toss in four points, St. Mary’s didn’t miss a beat to start the third quarter. Jeremiah Fielder scored the half’s opening hoop and Sharper quickly followed with a steal and an easy two. A bucket by Moore capped a 6-0 Panthers run to start the period. St. Mary’s was up by as many as 33 points midway through the third and finished the quarter doubling up the Pilots, 64-32 on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Terrence Boyd.
“If we had pressed in the second half like we did in the first, the score would have been worse than it turned out be,” Coraballo said. “We press until we have control of the game and after that we let up.”
In fact, the Panthers might have let up a little too much in the fourth quarter. St. Joseph’s pushed the ball up the court and outscored a sloppy St. Mary’s squad 18-14 in the final period.
Both teams made several trips to the free throw line with St. Mary’s converting 10-of-23 and St. Joseph’s hitting 18-of-33.
“Everybody came out and played with intensity in the first half,” said St. Mary’s DaShawn Freeman, who scored six points for the Panthers. “Sometimes in the first half we start out lackadaisical, but tonight we came out ready to play.”