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Early deficit costs St. Paul in sectional final loss

By JOSH MORGRET • Mar 1, 2019 at 10:26 PM

GALION — The deficit was just too big.

St. Paul found itself down by 16 points early in the second quarter against Lucas. No matter how hard the Flyers fought, they could not come all the way back.

St. Paul cut that lead to six points on two occasions, but the Cubs escaped with a 58-49 win in a Division IV sectional championship at Galion High School on Friday.

"We lost the game in the first quarter," St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. "They were not forced turnovers. They were unforced turnovers and it led to run-outs. Lucas did not do anything we did not expect."

The Flyers finish the season at 14-9, but dropped their last three games of the season.

"Lucas is a good team," Smith said. "They have not won 19 games for nothing. We knew it was going to be tougher. The first quarter is not how we wanted to begin the game."

The trouble started early for St. Paul. The Flyers committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone, not being able to keep up with the frantic pace that Lucas (19-5) played with.

"We are the team that plays really fast," Lucas coach Taylor Iceman said. "(You would think) that we would turn the ball over a lot. But, (the pace) is what we are comfortable doing. We slowed it down (in the second half) and we were a turnover factory."

The Cubs scored the first five points of the game, but St. Paul drew within 7-4 after a bucket by Nate Winslow.

But the pressure by Lucas was unrentless, and the Cubs scored the next 12 points, including 3s from Jeb Grover and Logan Niswander. Winslow's drive in the lane and scored cut the Lucas lead to 19-6 after eight minutes.

Despite a 3-point play from Alex Kashian early in the second quarter, Niswander connected on a 3-pointer to push the margin to 25-9 with 6:35 left in the second quarter.

"We are thankful we got the big lead there at the start," Iceman said. "That was huge. We want to play fast all the time. That is what we are good at."

From there, St. Paul cut back on the turnovers and played better. Kashian scored twice and Brandon Furlong's steal and score ended a 7-0 run by the Flyers, forcing Lucas into a timeout.

Grover and Jake Griffin exchanged buckets before Kashian made a pair of free throws, bringing St. Paul within 27-20. But, for as much momentum that the Flyers had gained, the Cubs stole it all back with the last four points of the half over the final 44 seconds, sending Lucas into halftime up 11 points.

"It was tough, because I thought we were grinding," Smith said. "We were making plays. We came up with some steals. We told the kids that there were no 15-point plays. We had to keep chipping away."

St. Paul cut the lead down to 32-24 when Ian Kashian scored off of an offensive rebound and then to six points after Griffin made two free throws.

But as they did all night, Lucas responded when the Flyers made a run. Gossom scored a layup, scored again after Winslow bucket, and Grover drilled a 3 at the buzzer to give the Cubs a 42-31 lead after three quarters.

"We just could not get over the hump there," Smith said. "We could not get any closer."

Gossom opened the fourth quarter with a layup before Winslow hit a 3 and Alex Kashian scored. Lucas built the lead back up to 11 points and maintained a comfortable lead most of the fourth quarter. The Cubs missed four straight free throws to give St. Paul hope late.

Alex Kashian scored with 28 seconds left to bring the Flyers back within 55-49, but Niswander hit two free throws and an empty possession by St. Paul ended the thoughts of a comeback.

"I thought we were able to get the ball in the paint and score," Smith said. "Lucas is a team that is very aggressive. We did attack the basket. Once we started going downhill, we were much better."

Alex Kashian tallied a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds while Nate Winslow also scored 14 points.

"I think our kids were locked in," Smith said. "We had a good week of preparation. We could have packed it in. The kids played their butts off to the last buzzer. For that, I give our kids a lot of credit."

Niswander paced the Cubs with 20 points.

The Flyers say goodbye to seven seniors - Noah Good, Treg Smith, Noah Avendano, Griffin, Justin Hammersmith, Ian Kashian, and Alex Kashian.

"I have seven seniors that I truly love and care for," coach Smith said. "I have seen them play the game of basketball since fourth grade. We have seen them grow and I am very proud of them. They are good kids and they are going to be very successful people."

LUCAS (19-5)

Carson Hauger 1-3—5, Ethan Sauder 3-0—7, Logan Niswander 6-6—20, Riley Gossom 5-1—11, Ethan Wallace 2-0—4, Jeb Grover 4-1—11. TOTALS 21-11—58.

ST. PAUL (14-9)

Jake Griffin 1-2—4, Nick Winslow 2-3—8, Nate Winslow 6-1—14, Ian Kashian 1-0—2, Alex Kashian 5 4—14, Brandon Furlong 3-0—6, Noah Good 0-1—1. TOTALS 18-11—49.

Lucas 19 12 11 16 — 58

St. Paul 6 14 11 18 — 49

3-point FGs: (L) Niswander 2, Grover 2, Sauder; (STP) Ni. Winslow, Na. Winslow