PITTSBURG — It was a good start to the new year for the St. Mary’s Colgan basketball teams, as both the girls and the boys picked up wins against Miami on Tuesday in SMC Fieldhouse.
SMC BOYS RALLY IN FOURTH
The intensity was high throughout, and the fast-paced game saw Colgan coming out on top 52-43.
The Panthers milked the clock in the final seconds of the ballgame, but it was a closer contest than the nine-point lead suggested, as the Panthers entered the final quarter down by one and slowly pulled away in the final eight minutes.
"We kept the faith, in terms of keeping the game uptempo and running full court,” SMC head coach Wayne Cichon said. “I think our depth wore them down for the most part. It was a great team effort defensively too. They were really shooting the ball well and executing early in the first half. We talked about it at halftime and then the kids came out and took it away from them.”
The win was due largely by the efforts of Simon Higginbotham, who controlled the game from start to finish, contributing 22 points.
"I think Simon Higginbotham had a tremendous game,” Cichon said. “He shot the ball well and did many other things really well. He knows our offense, and knows when he can spot up and when he can get to the rim. I think a lot of our kids do, but Simon did an extraordinary job of doing those things.”
Miami drew first blood in the opening quarter with a 3-pointer, then extended the lead to 13-6 after an 8-0 run.
Higginbotham ended the Wardogs' run with a layup and a free throw to complete an old fashioned three-point play.
Higginbotham went on to end the quarter with a traditional 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 19-14.
Miami got a quick two points to begin the second quarter, but Higginbotham responded with five consecutive points to bring the Panthers to within two points of the Wardogs, 21-19, in the opening minutes.
Miami outscored the Panthers 8-4 the rest of the way, heading into the locker room at halftime holding a 29-23 lead.
The third quarter was highlighted by a 9-2 run by the Panthers, with six of the nine coming from Higginbotham, who tied the game with a 3-pointer.
Higginbotham's triple came with 20 seconds left in the quarter, but the Wardogs managed to score three points before the buzzer sounded to go up 40-37 at the end of the quarter.
The Panthers controlled the final eight minutes of play, allowing the Wardogs to score just three points.
Higginbotham began the fourth quarter with a quick two points, before Aaron Higginbotham gave the Panthers a 41-40 lead on a mid-range jumper with just over six minutes left in regulation.
Holding a slim, two-point lead, Dominic Piccini put the Panthers up 47-43 with two points, and Simon Higginbotham kept the lead safe by making five free throws to end the game.
Piccini was also instrumental in the win, as he poured in 14 points.
PANTHER GIRLS EARN HARD-FOUGHT WIN
It wasn't pretty but the Panthers got the job done against the Wardogs, winning 49-30 in a relatively easy victory.
Both teams had their offensive struggles, but the Panthers ability to get to the free-throw line allowed them to mount a large lead and coast to the win.
"I thought we played really well on the defensive end,” SMC head coach Abby Farabi said. “We let one girl get open looks and hit four 3-pointers, but I thought our pressure was really good and I thought we did a great job rebounding.”
Miami jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead after hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Panthers answered back with 10-unanswered points to get out in front 10-6.
SMC's run was largely due to the Panthers' ability to get to the free-throw line, as eight of their 16 points in the first quarter came at the charity stripe.
The 10-0 run began with a pair of free throws by Synclaire Borum, and included three points by Marci VanBecelaere, one point by Delaney Cedeno and two points apiece from Emily Paterni and Sophia Piccini.
The 10-0 run was the beginning of a 16-2 streak, which lasted the duration of the first quarter.
After Miami ended the dry spell, getting on the board with two points, the Panthers got the two points right back by way of a shot from Paterni, before VanBecelaere scored four consecutive points to put the Panthers up 16-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Quarter two began with four consecutive points by the Panthers to give them a 20-8 lead, but the two teams matched each other point for point until halftime.
The Panthers went into the break holding a 28-17 lead, then broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Wardogs 11-8.
Miami put two points on the board to begin the final quarter, but a pair of free throws by Aubri Piccini sparked an 8-2 run, which extended the Panther lead to 47-28.
With the game well in hand, the underclassmen finished out the win for the Panthers the rest of the way.
Marci VanBecelaere was the offensive catalyst, with 14 points.
Paterni was also shooting the ball well, contributing 13 points of her own.
SMC will host Columbus at 6 p.m. on Friday.
-- Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.