The second night of the GBN/St. Patricks tournament featured two unbeaten teams in Payton, who was coming off a huge win over De La Salle, and the co-hosts St. Pats.
After overcoming a slow start, St. Pats would go on to beat Payton 53-45 behind a great defensive effort.
The game opened up with both teams flying up and down the floor, but not much scoring to show for it.
Payton took a 6-2 lead three minutes into the game after three miscommunications from St. Pats on the defensive end, leading to several back door cuts, and dives to the basket.
After the initial defensive letdowns, St. Pats brought pressure to try and speed up Payton. The change in defensive intensity worked, as Payton would not score for the rest of the first quarter.
“The whole idea was to try and speed these guys up and make them uncomfortable,” said St. Pats head coach Mike Bailey. “They’re a pretty poised team, but I think we were able to wear them down a little bit. It starts with ball pressure and Austin Freeman was able to get on 15’s (Ryan Trotter) tail the whole game.”
During that time frame, St. Pats would go on a 24-6 run, giving them a 26-12 lead with one minute left in the half, seemingly putting them in control.
However, Payton did not go away. The Grizzlies got seven straight points to end the half, and continued that momentum after the break, at one point cutting the St. Pats lead down to just two points at 29-27.
But yet again, St. Pats would respond closing the quarter on another run behind three point shooting from Jakob Medina and Dominic Galati to regain a 10 point advantage.
For much of the final quarter, St. Pats maintained a comfortable lead. A few untimely turnovers leading to Payton scores made things slightly worrisome for the Shamrocks, but they quickly regained their composure and never allowed Payton to creep within five points.
“It’s early in the season. I think at one point we had two sophomores and three juniors out there playing in their first varsity game, so we need games like this.” said Bailey.
“I think a key part of the game is taking a seven, eight point lead from six minutes down to three minutes, thats tough for a young team to navigate. You don’t want them to lose their aggressiveness, but different shots need to be taken and I think we got better with that as the game went on.”
St. Pats would close out the game with excellent free throw shooting, going eight for eight in the final frame to take the game to its 53-45 final.
Medina finished with a team high 15 points and sophomore Joe Fanning finished with 11 to lead St. Pats.
The undefeated Shamrocks will face a hungry De La Salle on Wednesday night for a chance to play in the finals of the GBN/St. Pats tournament.
Bailey said: “They’re big and athletic. We’re going to need to grow up a little bit from tonight to tomorrow night. It’ll be good for us I think our kids will react to the challenge, but it’s going to be a mans game tomorrow.”