By TONY EIERDAM
SANTO – Parker Conaway scored 10 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Santo Wildcats to a 46-38 victory over Lake Country Christian School here Thursday in the opening round of the boys’ Santo tournament.
The Wildcats never trailed in the game against their taller opponent.
When the Eagles cut the lead to five points before the final stanza began, Conaway – with help from brilliant passing from guard Cooper Barling – scored 10 points in a three-minute span to help put the game away.
“We sped it up, played good defense and rebounded well,” Wildcats head coach Tony Smith said. “We made shots when we needed them, especially in the fourth quarter when they were trying to come back.
“I think we outworked them on the defensive end, we blocked them out, and they were getting one shot and that was it.
“We were spreading the ball out and driving the gaps, and that gave us the option of driving to the basket or kick it out to our shooters on the perimeter.”
Leading 28-23 as the game moved to the fourth period, Conaway loosened up the Eagles’ defense when he hit a three-pointer from the right perimeter 19 seconds into the quarter.
Lake Country then began to struggle on offense in part because of the big body of post Zarmorris Cannon, who finished with seven rebounds, most on the defensive end.
After a Cannon, rebound, Santo guard Christopher Hoover nailed a short jumper to increase the Wildcats’ lead to 33-23.
After another failed offensive effort by LCCS, Conaway drove in for a layup to extend the lead to 35-23.
LCCS scored its first point of the quarter on a free throw, but Conaway came right back and found an opening down the right side of the lane where he put down another layup for a 37-24 Santo advantage.
After a LCCS turnover, Conaway drained a trey from the right baseline as Santo led 40-24 with 4:44 left to play.
LCCS refused to give up and after a timeout the Eagles went on a 7-0 run to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 40-31 with 3:05 remaining in the contest.
The Eagles countered with consecutive jumpers, but trailing 42-35 with two and a half minutes left to play were forced to foul.
Shane Scott calmly connected on a pair of charity shots to increase the lead to nine points, but the Eagles were unable to score again until the final buzzer as Santo held on for an eight-point win.
“Parker had some big baskets in the fourth quarter when we were struggling offensively,” Smith said. “Also, our big guy, Zee (Cannon), played like a man down low.”
Santo led 12-9 after the first quarter. Conaway and Keith Chalker each scored four points to lead the ‘Cats.
Each team scored 10 points in the second quarter as the ‘Cats took a 22-19 lead into the locker room at the break.
In the third quarter, a nifty hook shot by Cannon off a feed from Barling extended the Santo lead to 24-19.
The ‘Cats continued their brief run with a jumper from the lane by Hoover and a put back from Cannon to increase Santo’s lead to 28-19.
LCCS closed the third period with a 4-0 run as Santo took a five-point lead into the final stanza.
Also scoring for Santo were Cannon with 13 points, Scott and Hoover, each with five, Chalker with four and Zane Mauney with two.
Ladycats 49, Dallas Gateway 23
Taylor Nemeth scored 12 points and Courtney Flanagan added seven to lead the Santo Ladycats to a 49-23 victory over Dallas Gateway here Thursday in the opening round of the girls’ Santo tournament.
With a lot at stake this season for the state-ranked No. 5 Ladycats, head coach Tony Raffaele still does not feel his 9-1 team is where he would like it to be.
“They gave us a little work inside, and we need that,” Raffaele said. “But we need to start making more shots.
“We need to make the easy ones, and we certainly need to start hitting from the perimeter because it is going to get tougher as move along.
“The girls are giving a good effort, our quickness is there, we just have to make better decisions.”
Jumping out to an 8-0 lead, the Ladycats strolled to a 13-4 advantage in the first quarter.
In the second period, Flanagan nailed a pair of jumpers and Kristy Trammell followed with a bucket down low to increase the lead to 19-4.
After Gateway scored on a layup, Sarah Van Remmen drove the middle of the lane for a bucket and Payton Billue swished a jumper from the right perimeter as Santo’s lead grew to 23-6.
Gateway closed the first-half scoring on a layup as the Ladycats led 23-8 at the half.
Gateway matched Santo bucket for bucket early in the third quarter, and halfway through the period managed to cut the Ladycats’ lead to 27-15.
But Santo finished the quarter with a 9-0 run – courtesy of a layups by Nemeth, Van Remmen and Breeana Raffaele and a three-point play from Trammell – to extend the lead to 36-15 as the contest entered the fourth quarter.
Santo outscored Gateway 13-8 in the final period, with the last Ladycats bucket coming on a put back by Callie Wharton.
Also scoring for the Ladycats were Billue with six points, Trammell with five, Raffaele, Chloe McGlaun, Alyssa McKennon and Van Remmen, each with four, and Wharton with three.
By TONY EIERDAM
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