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After the St. Bede boys basketball team won four games in four days to win last week’s Marseilles Holiday Tournament, a six-day layoff and a holiday wasn’t exactly what the red-hot Bruins wanted.
“We won and all of a sudden we got a week off and thought we were pretty good,” St. Bede coach Mike Kilmartin said.
Friday against Princeton, the Bruins struggled to get back to the championship level.
Thankfully for St. Bede, it didn’t hurt.
Despite battling a holiday hangover, the Bruins used an 11-0 first-quarter run to take control of Friday’s NCIC game early and never trailed the final 29 minutes as they held on for a sluggish 54-40 victory over Princeton at the Academy.
“They went to that (1-3-1) zone (early) and we were trying to figure it out,” SBA senior Brad Groleau said. “We just needed to get the ball moving and get the speed of the game up to the way we wanted; that was just tough for us tonight.”
Despite the Bruins leading for all but the first few minutes, the Tigers (4-13, 0-1 NCIC) still had chances to pull out the win late.
After St. Bede (13-3, 1-1 NCIC) took a 30-15 lead just 1:25 into the third quarter, the Tigers began to chip away.
Three baskets and two free throws from Princeton senior Josh Kieffer helped to cut the defict as the Tigers pulled to 35-29 after three quarters.
“In the first half of the season when the other team would make a run to make it 11 or 14, we kind of let them get away from us,” PHS coach Jesse Brandt said. “Tonight, I was proud that we fought back and got it to (six) and really had a chance.”
However, after PHS pulled to six, that’s when Groleau took over.
The senior started the fourth quarter with a three-point play and added two more free throws to push the lead to 39-29.
A hoop from SBA senior Damin Smith increased the lead, and eight more points from Groleau down the stretch helped to seal the SBA victory.
“Without Groleau, we would’ve been in trouble,” Kilmartin said. “Groleau carried us there.”
Groleau finished with a game-high 25 points, 13 of which came in the fourth. Joe Pyszka added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Bruins, while Smith had 10 points and Sam Lucas added five.
Together, the four Bruins combined to score all 54 of SBA’s points.
“Groleau had 25 and Pyszka hurt us inside on the boards,” Brandt said. “Smith is also a good player and he hit some big shots, especially in the first half.”
St. Bede also controlled the glass as it outrebounded PHS 31-26, but 10 of the Tigers’ rebounds were team rebounds. In all, the Bruins had 18 offensive boards in the game.
“All the extra possessions really hurt,” Brandt said. “And when you combine the (22) turnovers and the rebounds, it was the difference in the game.”
Kieffer had 11 points for PHS, while Austin Mack added eight points and six rebounds.
Note: The St. Bede sophomore team rolled past Princeton to earn a 74-37 running-clock victory. Jarret Olson had 21 points and Jack Brady had 19 points for SBA, which improved to 12-0. Trevor Bickett and Garrett Duffin each had a team-high nine points for Princeton.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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