After watching an 11-point lead evaporate in the second quarter, the No. 1-ranked St. Francis boys took the court in the third quarter with a more determined approach.
The defending Class A Private state champions were disappointed in the way they had responded in the second quarter with a big lead and wanted to make sure it didn’t carry over to the second half.
St. Francis scored the first 19 points of the third period and roared to a 63-40 win over Whitefield Academy in the semifinal round of the Class A Private tournament at Kennesaw State.
“I told our guys we were going to get a good game from them,” St. Francis coach Drew Catlett said. “This is fourth time we’ve played them this year and every time it’s a war. I knew it was going to be a battle. Our guys knew it.”
St. Francis led 16-5 early in the second quarter before Whitefield Academy began to rally. The Wolfpack outscored the Knights 15-2 and tied the game when Brendon Miles drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
St. Francis responded by opening the third quarter with a dunk from Kobi Jordan-Simmons and another from Malik Beasley. That set the pace and St. Francis used its defensive pressure and superiority on the boards to hinder the Wolfpack, who didn’t score until Myles Belyeu scored with 24 seconds left.
“To hold a team to four points … . We’ve had games where we do that, where we get stop after stop and fast break points,” Catlett said.
St. Francis (28-3) was led by FSU signee Malik Beasley with 16 points, Xavier signee Kaiser Gates with 17 and Kobi Jordan-Simmons with 16.
Whitefield Academy (22-10) got 12 points from Courtney Alexander and 11 from Brendon Myles, who had three 3-point baskets.
“This is a resilient bunch,” Catlett said. “They make a run. Our guys played with confidence. We take some bad shots every once in a while, but made some plays, too.”
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