By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
With senior point guard Malachi Poindexter injured and out of the lineup indefinitely, St. Anne’s Belfield boys’ basketball coach Damin Altizer has spent this past week searching for remedies as to how to make up for the missing 13.2 point points per game.
On Friday night in a rare meeting with cross-town rival Covenant, Altizer received answers from not one, not two, but four different players.
A trio of Saints finished in double figures and another tallied nine big points, as STAB cruised past the home-standing Eagles, 65-36.
St. Anne’s (17-6) grabbed a double digit lead right before intermission, and its advantage only grew in the second half.
Eighth grader Chance Mallory led all scorers with a career-high 16 points in his second consecutive start in place of Poindexter. After taking on the role of distributor for the early stretch of the game, the five-foot-one floor general caught fire from the outside.
Mallory buried four three pointers, and did not miss from behind the arc until the final two minutes of the game. The rookie also tallied back-to-back layups off of turnovers in a second-quarter run that helped the Saints take complete control of the game.
“Heart and energy is everything — even as an eighth grader, he’s the guy, where if we don’t have energy, he finds a way to bring it to the team,” Altizer said. “He just has the ‘it’ factor. He just steps right in, there’s no nerves or anything. He just lets it fly and talks- other than his stature, you wouldn’t know that he was an eighth grader.”
The career showing comes on the heels of an 11-point outing for Mallory on Tuesday night against Fork Union. Mallory had plenty of help in the backcourt, as senior Nick Reese finished with 14 points, while freshman John St. Germain finished with a season-best, 13 points on the night.
Reese and St. Germain found plenty of holes in the Covenant defense, as the two explosive guards often took turns getting into the lane and finishing. Nearly all of their 27 combined points took place inside the paint. As great as Reese was on offense, he made his biggest impact of the game on the defensive end.
Reese along with sophomore Justin Taylor faced the difficult task of slowing down Covenant leading scorer Jonas Sanker. Less than 24 hours after Sanker led a furious comeback against Eastern Mennonite, STAB’s pair of wings kept him in check for most of the night. After allowing a nifty layup on the opening possession of the game, Reese and St. Germain clamped down on defense, and limited the younger Sanker to just three more field goals.
Jonas finished with 13 points, which is eight below his season average.
“Nick and Justin did a phenomenal job… Everybody knows each other, so they were able to move their feet and did a great job,” Altzier said of his team’s effort against the Eagles.
Nic Sanker did not touch the scoreboard until the fourth quarter, but he did throw down a thunderous, one-handed dunk to bring life to the Covenant student section.
Balance was the name of the game on offense for the Saints. All five STAB starters scored in the game’s first few minutes, one after another, and the visitors continued to share the ball all night. With the exception of the two straight layups by Mallory in the second quarter, no other Saint notched consecutive field goals on the night.
“For all of those guys to step up in [Poindexter’s] absence was just huge,” Altizer said. “The emphasis was to move the ball side-to-side. We didn’t do a great job of that last Tuesday to get everyone involved and get some inside-outside action…It paid off early.”
Freshman big man Carter Lang rotated in and out of the lineup, but the six-foot-seven center made the most of his time on the floor, finishing with nine points.
The loss snaps Covenant’s six-game winning streak.
The Eagles held a 2-0 lead and then tied the game at four a piece, before falling behind for the remainder of the contest. Covenant used a mini 6-2 surge in the second quarter to pull to within six, before STAB scored the last five points of the first half, and the Eagles never drew any closer.
Covenant will look to bounce back on February 11 against North Cross, while STAB will host St. Christopher’s on Tuesday as well, for senior night.