St. James boys will have several chances to rebound from loss
When top area prep basketball teams like Leavenworth are shooting well, they’re hard to stop. Give them home court advantage, and it’s like trying to stop a steamroller with a paperclip.
The St. James Academy boys basketball team found out just what that’s like Friday when a hot-shooting Leavenworth Pioneer squad overpowered the Thunder, 81-51, at Leavenworth High School Gymnasium.
“They got on us pretty good,” coach Mark Huppe said. “We felt we had a really good game plan against (Preston) Padgett and (Grant) Greenberg going in, but they got on a good run. Their success of offense got us out of our defensive game plan, and we tried to catch up too quickly and rushed some things.”
The Thunder (7-7) came out with good energy, Huppe said, and kept the sixth-ranked Class 6A Pioneers within five at 13-8 after one quarter.
However, the Leavenworth guards let loose with a barrage of three-pointers in the second quarter and pushed their halftime advantage to 15 at 33-18.
The third quarter was a repeat of the second, so that by the time the St. James offense found its most success — in the fourth quarter — the game’s result was no longer in doubt.
“I’d like to say that we gave them a lot of their points,” Huppe said, “but in all honesty they simply outplayed us, and I’d like to give them all the credit. There’s a reason Leavenworth is 11-2.”
Despite giving up a combined 42 points to Greenberg and Padgett, there were moments of success for the Thunder.
Senior forward Clint McCullough had another standout game with 28 points, leading all scorers, while junior guard Tom Huppe added 13.
Despite the lopsided loss, Coach Huppe assured his team there were positives to be taken from the experience.
“This game is going to make us stronger in February,” Huppe said. “We need to learn lessons of poise and composure. I liked our energy and enthusiasm early, but we need to put four quarters together.”
The Leavenworth game marked the start of four games in eight days for the Thunder. St. James returned to play on Tuesday at University Academy Charter in Kansas City, Mo. University Academy Charter is led by Martez Harris, who was scoring 33.5 points per game heading into the contest. Results were not available at press time.
St. James next plays host to St. Pius X at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, before going back on the road against Huppe’s alma mater, Rockhurst High School, at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“This is a big week for us,” Huppe said. “We had a good practice Saturday morning that got us back on track, and we’ll have another good one on Monday.”