St. Mary’s defends lead against Northwood to eke out win

by Trent Friedel

Joe Metoyer gets the tip against Northwood.

The Saint Mary’s Tigers hosted the Northwood Lena Gators Jan. 25 after it was postponed due to Tuesday’s weather. I’m not sure if the extra day changed anything with regards to preparation, but man what a game.

The Gators entered with the number one seed in Division IV and a 21-4 record. Both teams were undefeated in District play and this contest would probably set the stage for a second matchup for the outright district championship. Saint Mary’s at 14-5 and sitting in the number seven power points standing won the tip and held first possession against the Gators 1-3-1 zone defense.

Payne Williams opened scoring with a three-point shot from behind the arc. The Tigers settled into man-to-man defense and multiple trips down the court occurred before #4 Lee scored the first points for Northwood with almost half of the first quarter expired.

Lee for the Gators and Williams for the Tigers were the only scorers through the first four minutes until Mixon Bankston comes crashing down the lane for a tip in rebound score forcing a Northwood timeout. #5 Barron for the Gators would tie the game at 9 with a deep three-point shot. The 9-9 score would end the quarter, a low scoring effort by both squads and St. Mary’s certainly could have benefited from more offensive boards.

A three-point shot would keep Northwood hanging around. Ayden Warren put SMS up 17-14 with 4:53 on the clock before half. Joe Metoyer made a baseline spin move on a defender for an easy layup to keep the Tigers up by three, but a foul called on Ben Bienvenu sent #23 Layssard to the line. He hit both shots and it was a one-point game.

The Gators tied up the game at 21 with a three-ball ,and a jump shot in the lane gave them their first lead of the game.

The Tigers answered with a three pointer by Williams to regain the lead and head to the locker room up 24-23. Saint Mary’s had the ball to open the third period. They can’t score and Barron #5 nails a three-point shot and is fouled in the process by Bankston. That four-point play set up an eleven-point run by the Gators. Saint Mary’s had gone dry through almost half of the period.

Saint Mary’s then woke up and started their own scoring to go on a 9-0 scoring run themselves. Going into the final period of play the home Tigers were down by one-point 34-33. Mixon Bankston opened up Tiger scoring in the final frame with a lane driving left handed layup. The teams traded scoring before Ayden Warren got an open baseline three-point shot to drop and Saint Mary’s retook the lead 41-38.

Gator’s #4 Lee hit with a three-point of his own, to tie the game. With the Tigers up again by one, 44-43 with 2:38 remaining. #23 Layssard slammed down a big rim rattling dunk to put Gator’s up again 45-44. Saint Mary’s was in the bonus and went to the line to sink one. Then Payne Williams drained another three to put Tigers leading 49-46 with 1:40. Williams was again good for three,  to bring the score to 52-48, Saint Mary’s, but they fouled Layssard and he brought the game to within one 52-51 SMS with 58.8 seconds in regulation. A last minute surge by St. Mary’s combined by a free throw awarded to Northwood brought the final score to 57-53 in the game’s closing moments.