As St. Vincent coach Bruce Valleroy said after the game, it’s a whole different brand of basketball in the Bootheel. Advance wore down St. Vincent in the fourth quarter and walked away with a 64-57 victory in the Class 2, District 3 tournament on Thursday at Advance High School.
“We knew going in that it would be a tough game because they are,” Valleroy said. “I thought as the game went on we wore down. We stood around a little too much on offense at times and we had trouble with their pressure. We don’t see that during the season and it’s totally different when you play against it.”
The Indians committed 18 turnovers in the game, but 11 in the second half and seven in the fourth quarter as the pressure from Advance’s full court press and then in the second half, their half-court trap got to St. Vincent.
Advance (20-5) extended what was a four-point lead entering the final quarter to nine at 54-45, but Evan DeWilde and Jon Wibbenmeyer helped spark a 6-0 run with a pair of baskets, that cut the Advance advantage to just three at 54-51 with just under four minutes remaining in the game and forced an Advance timeout.
After the short break Jaren Schrader hit jumpers on consecutive baskets to stretch the lead to seven and the wheels fell off the offense as the Indians made just one shot in the rest of the game.
“I tried to sub kids in and out as much as I could, but at times we let the pressure of their defense get to us,” Valleroy said. “When you come south you better come ready to play.”
John Wibbenmeyer had 19 points to lead the Indians, while Phillip Ernst added 13 points, while Shawn Koishor chipped in 10. Advance was led by Hayden Hitt with 23 points, including all seven of the three-pointers for the Hornets. Landon Dailey added 18 points and Schrader scored 13 points.
The game saw Advance strike the first blow as they opened the game on a 9-2 run after DeWilde opened the scoring for St. Vincent with a three-pointer. The teams went back and fourth from there as Wibbenmeyer hit a three and Ernst put the Indians ahead 10-9 with 2:45 left in the first quarter. Wibbenmeyer hit another three to stop an 11-all deadlock and Blake Monier ended the first quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play in the waning seconds to give St. Vincent a 17-14 lead after the opening frame. St. Vincent closed that quarter on a 12-5 run.
Hitt splashed home a trio of three points to spark a 18-5 run for Advance that saw them open up a 32-24 lead.
St. Vincent (19-5) countered with a run of their own as Wibbenmeyer scored six of the points in an 8-0 run as the Hornets failed to scored in the final 3 minutes of the first half as the game went into the break tied at 32-32.
Koishor was a big part of the offense coming out of the half as he scored eight straight points for the Indians as the third quarter went back and forth, featuring five lead changes. Ernst had a putback for the Indians to give Advance a 48-44 lead heading into the final quarter.
Advance will take on Valle Catholic in the district title game on Saturday as the Warriors upset top seed Oran 43-40 in the other semifinal. As for the Indians, they will say goodbye to six seniors, including four starters, who have been a big part of a St. Vincent program that has won 93 games in the past five seasons.
“That’s the work ethic of our kids and if you ask anybody about what we have done over the last five years, they probably don’t have any idea,” Valleroy said. “To get that recognition you have to win games like these and win titles and things. Hopefully once we start to do that, the recognition will come.”