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BOYS BB: St. Joseph ends Peru's postseason run

Mar. 18—LOGANSPORT — Peru's boys basketball team was in a hole seconds after its semistate game tipped off.

South Bend St. Joseph started the game on a 7-0 run before the Bengal Tigers had a response. Peru never let St. Joseph run away, but never completely reeled the Huskies in either as St. Joseph led wire to wire in beating Peru 88-80 Saturday morning in the semifinal round of the Class 3A North Semistate at Lognsport's Berry Bowl.

St. Joseph gained the advantage with pressure defense that forced seven Peru turnovers in the first quarter. Peru adjusted, but fought from behind all game.

"We just weren't making good decisions with the ball early in the game," Peru coach Travis Smith said. "We were dribbling it into trouble, over-penetrating. [We] settled back down and started making the right pass and getting good looks, just too late."

The Huskies led 20-14 after a quarter, 44-31 at halftime and 58-51 after three quarters. Peru put up 29 points in the fourth quarter but St. Joseph kept answering. The Huskies hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

"Early we were turning over a little bit against the press," Smith said. "We didn't get it in position we needed to, but down the stretch we've been dicing up the press. They're still pressing in the fourth quarter and we got 29 points against it, but they hit the shots they needed to. They hit a lot of 3s early and some shooters that haven't shot that well this year knocked down 3 in a row. That makes it tough to overcome.

"Kids stuck with the game plan. Effort's what we have to rely on and we battled back. We had a couple chances down the stretch and couldn't finish a possession like we needed to."

St. Joseph led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but with Peru's Alex Ross going wild inside for 31 points and Matthew Roettger driving to the basket to score or dish, the Bengal Tigers were hard to shake. The Bengals twice trimmed the lead to a possession.

In the first quarter, a five-point run by Roettger cut St. Joseph's lead to 16-14 with :53 left in the frame but the Huskies closed the quarter with four points on an inside hoop by Breashaun Woods and then a steal and layup at the buzzer by Chase Konieczny.

And then in the fourth quarter, a 3-pointer by Peru's Ian Potts and two free throws by Xavier Turner cut the lead to 78-75 with :46 left, but four free throws by Konieczny and Nick Shrewsberry pushed the Huskie lead out to 82-75 at :27.

"Our guys are going to the end," Smith said. "I thought we had the dogs to do it and not a lot of people did, but I knew we could hang with them and they did. We could have laid down. They kept locking in [saying], 'we gotta get stops, we gotta get stops.' We gave up 88 points, but this team's got a lot of firepower. They play fast.

"They were 11 of 23 [from 3-point land], that's pretty dang good shooting. We hit some late to rally back. We were 7 of 17, and 0 of 6 in the first half, so that's why we got down. We can hit some of those shots we missed, but when they're hitting and we're not, you get down."

Foul trouble affected both as each had a player with three fouls in the first half and two more with two, but in the end, Peru paid a heavier price. Starters Roettger, Ross and Potts each fouled out in the fourth. Roettger was the first, fouling out with 2:14 left and St. Joseph up 74-69.

Ross' 31 points led all scorers. He hit 11 of 14 shots. Roetter finished with 18 points and four assists. Xavier Turner scored 10, Potts nine — all on 3-pointers in the fourth period — and had four assists, Gavin Eldridge scored eight and Reis Bellar four. Ross grabbed eight boards.

For St. Joseph, Konieczny had a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds. Jayce Lee scored 24, Shrewsberry 18 and Elijah King 13. Shrewsberry hit four 3s and Konieczny and Lee three each.

The Bengals ended their season 16-11, adjusting to a new coach and surging at the end.

"It's just a tough position for the kids," said Smith, a former Peru player. "I've been through the same thing: I played three years, had the same coach, get a new coach my senior year and it's hard to buy in. It took us a while. This is a great group and was expecting a lot of wins. We're 12-10 in the regular season, we had a tougher schedule this season, but we still expected to win more.

"It took a while but they bought in and they wanted to win. This tournament run's amazing for our community. I think it ties the best tournament run for Peru. The kids wanted it, they just came up a little short."

St. Joseph went on win the semistate championship, beating Delta 44-41 in triple overtime.