Nick Reese poured in a career high 23 points and St. Anne’s Belfield used a big third-quarter run to pull away from West Potomac 76-69 in the first round of the Daily Progress Holiday Hoops Classic.
After taking a 38-30 lead into the break, the Saints scored the first 14 points of the third quarter to break open a game in which they led virtually throughout, setting up a semifinal clash with Western Albemarle on Thursday night.
Reese led an 8-0 Saints run midway through the first quarter which gave STAB a 12-4 lead on the strength of a trey and an old-fashioned three-point play. The Saints led 17-10 after one, with Reese contributing 13 of those points.
What made the game more impressive is that STAB features no regular player standing above 6-foot-2, while West Potomac starting center Jonas Munson stands seven feet. That Saints’ Myles Ward spent much of the game on the bench with foul trouble, yet STAB forced 16 Wolverine turnovers and held Munson to just four points.
“Obviously we’re a shorter team, so we have to get out, get out, get out,” STAB associate head coach Damin Altizer said. “We’re not going to out-rebound teams, so we try to get extra chances with turnovers and playing fast.”
STAB’s lead got as large as 14 on a three-point play by Messiah Woods with 3:54 to go in the second, but the Wolverines began to claw back, finishing the half on a 7-0 run to close to 38-30. The deficit would have been even smaller had West Potomac not missed four free throws in the period.
Reese got the burst started with a layup, then added two more free throws later in the run. Jordan Pennix and Nic Kent also had a pair of baskets during the spurt, which lasted four minutes before West Potomac’s Bradley Harden stopped the bleeding with a layup of his own. By then, STAB’s lead had reached 20 and they led 61-42 at halftime, not allowing the lead to get below double digits until the closing minutes.
“We expect high energy,” Reese said. “It starts in warmups. If we come out, punch hard, and play with high intensity, we’re going to come out with the win.”
Three other Saints scored in double figures, led by Pennix’s 14 points. Woods and Dalton Taylor added 13 apiece for STAB.
“We don’t really have a starting five — as odd as it sounds, we have a starting six,” Altizer said. “Different guys can play multiple positions, guard different positions. Different guys can bring it up the floor. It’s absolutely one of our strengths.”
West Potomac finished the game with a flurry to make the score more respectable. They scored 15 of the final 17 points before Woods sealed it with a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left. The Wolverines were led by Darly Mackey’s 23 points while Stanley Adjei added 13. West Potomac will face North Stafford in the consolation bracket on Thursday afternoon.