After falling to Foard in a nail-biter on the road a few weeks ago, the St. Stephens boys basketball team eliminated the suspense the second time around.
The Indians (14-9) made 10 three-pointers in Monday’s NWC first round tournament game against the Tigers, including four each by Dillion Spencer and Logan Starkey, lifting them to a 61-48 victory.
St. Stephens coach Murphy Post said it was the second straight game his team found its stroke.
“We had a lot of confidence from behind the arc built up from last Friday night against Watauga,” Post said. “We hit 12 three-pointers in that game. We were hot, and it carried over.”
The Indians shot their way to a 38-25 lead at halftime behind eight of their 10 threes in the game.
Logan Starkey scored 11 of St. Stephens’ points in the half, including a trio of three-pointers.
Trailing by double digits for most of the second half, the Tigers (13-10) didn’t give up.
Like their comeback Feb. 3 on “Senior Night” against St. Stephens, Foard cut its second-half deficit in the fourth quarter, aiming for a repeat of its memorable performance at home.
The Tigers outrebounded the Indians in the final quarter, 17-8, including 13 offensive rebounds.
“Our kids don’t quit,” said Foard coach Rob Bliss. “For the most part, we’ve played hard all year with the exception of three-four halves. We play hard and aggressively. Sometimes teams with big leads tend to relax a little bit. We were able to catch them for a while.”
Post said Foard’s effort Monday resembled the Tigers’ effort Feb. 3.
“Foard plays so hard. They don’t quit,” he said. “Even in the fourth quarter, they cut that lead down. They are a good team and made a run.”
Closing out strong at the “charity stripe,” the Indians made their free throws count, sinking 9-of-11 free chances in the final stanza to hold on and advance.
Bliss said the Tigers’ lack of proficiency cost them in the end.
“Our lack of execution got in the way,” he said. “That’s something we’ve struggled with all year. What did us in was our first half defensive effort.”
Moving forward to Wednesday’s second round against Alexander Central, Post said his team has some improvements to make.
“Rebounding is definitely a concern,” Post said. “Brandon Kirk killed us on the board. That’s a mentality thing that we are constantly trying to improve on. Obviously, we still have a ways to go.”