Steger, Dunlap Lead Riders

St. Marys’ Ethan Steger settles for a jump shot over Kenton’s Jayden Cornell during a Western Buckeye League boys basketball game on Friday.
By: 
Jake Dowling
Sports Editor

Echoed numerous times by Roughriders coach Craig Szymczak, when his team allows fewer than 50 points against any opponent, good things happen for his squad, and that sentiment held true again on Friday.

Limiting a 59 points per game Kenton team to 47 on the night, St. Marys moves into a four-way tie for second place in the Western Buckeye League standings after a 55-47 victory on Friday night at Memorial High School.

“Our goal is if we can score over 50 points with the way we are playing defense right now and it also makes it tough on the defense when they can’t focus on just one guy, so it opens everything that way,” the coach said. “But tonight’s game was won on the defensive end.

“Our goal tonight was to make them a half-court team and I think they might have had one transition basket. We are a defensive team and if we can score, good things are going to happen.”

The Roughriders (4-8, 2-1 WBL) held an opponent to fewer than 50 points for the sixth straight time on Friday, equating to a 4-2 record during that stretch, while the offense is doing just enough to supplement the defense.

In an otherwise close affair, the Roughriders took a lead they never relinquished in the second quarter thanks to that combination of sound defense and complementary offense.

Trailing 12-8 with 2:15 remaining in the first quarter, the Roughriders ended the first eight minutes down two points on an Ethan Steger basket — igniting a 9-2 run by St. Marys heading into the second stanza.

Five players scored for the Roughriders as they made five of their first eight shots to open the second quarter — including knocking down two of their first three shots as part of a 5-0 run — to give them a 17-14 lead.

St. Marys eventually pushed its lead to 22-16 before Kenton’s Jaron Sharp connected on a bucket with 37 seconds remaining in the first half.

Dating back to their last basket of the first quarter, the Wildcats mustered a 1-of-10 shooting clip from the floor until the 1:40 mark of the second quarter, more than one quarter-worth of play.

With the Roughriders defense being their offense, St. Marys’ post play did the rest.

The combination of junior Braeden Dunlap and sophomore Ethan Steger combined for 20 points to keep the Wildcats at bay the rest of the way.

For the full story, grab Saturday's print edition of The Evening Leader.