The St. Vincent gymnasium is in need of a new net. That’s because the St. Vincent boys basketball team spend about 20 minutes after their victory over Herculaneum cutting it down in celebration of yet another JCAA Conference-small school division title.
The Indians used a big second half to edge the Blackcats 50-34 on Saturday at St. Vincent High School. The victory cemented St. Vincent third straight conference title. The Indians have won 15 straight conference games and 19 of 20 overall.
St. Vincent was ahead 18-16 at the half and coach Bruce Valleroy had a simple message for his team.
“We had to come out with more intensity in the third quarter,” Valleroy said. “I just thought we had a let down in the second quarter and allowed them back in the game. We had to kind of grind it out late and we did that. It’s a win and we will take it.”
The Indians came out firing in the third quarter as John Wibbenmeyer, who had 12 points in the contest, scored on the opening possession and from that moment on, it was all St. Vincent. Shawn Koishor scored back-to-back baskets, which sparked a 12-0 run by the Indians. When Phillip Ernst, who led St. Vincent with 13 points, forced a Herculaneum timeout, the Indians had taken control with a 30-16 advantage.
“This team is very good with making adjustments at halftime and at the end of quarters,” Valleroy said. “That’s what I like most about this group. We moved without the ball better because we had five different players score in that third quarter.”
But as was the case for different stretches in the game, St. Vincent’s shots were not falling. The Indians brought a 36-21 lead into the final quarter, but struggled with only one made field goal in the quarter on a jumper by Evan DeWilde, who had 10 points in the game.
The rest of the points came from the free throw line, where the Indians went 12-14 in the quarter and 24-28 for the game. The Indians’ team average from the free throw line 60 percent this year.
“Our free throw percentage has not been very good this year,” Valleroy said. “That’s great because we need to hit those later on in the season, and in districts.”
The Indians came out on fire to start the game. Ernst had seven of the team’s 12 points in the quarter as St. Vincent jumped ahead 9-0 and led 12-3 after the first quarter. Herculaneum did not make a shot until the 1:50 of the first quarter. Ernst led St. Vincent with 14 point in the game.
Herculaneum rebounded with the three-point shot in the second quarter as Grant McCollugh scored six of his 14 points in the second quarter with shots from beyond the arc.
The Blackcats outscored St. Vincent 13-6 in the quarter and Valleroy’s the offense struggled in the frame.
“We just didn’t move,” he said. “I thought we did a lot of standing around and didn’t have very good ball and player movement. When we move that’s when we are dangerous.”
Depending on weather, the Indians may not play again until Saturday, when they take on Puxico in the first round of the Class 2, District 3 tournament. The Indians were seeded third behind Oran and Advance.
JV finishes up year
The varsity squad was not the only team to walk away with a victory as the junior varsity won as well and depending on the weather conditions this week, may have played their final game.
With the win, the junior varsity went 16-2 including 5-0 against conference foes and the freshmen went 7-1. That continues a stretch over the past years where the JV has averaged about 17 wins per season.
“They work hard,” Valleroy said. “The guys know that they are going to have four years of me as their coach and we don’t do anything different than the varsity does. That helps with the comfort level as the kids come through the system. This is all about the players, I really have nothing to do with it.”