The St. Anthony’s boys basketball team used Saturday’s game as an experiment.
The Friars, who graduated five seniors from last year’s CHSAA championship team, fell 58-55 to St. Joseph’s of Metuchen, New Jersey in the New York Holiday Invitational at St. Anthony's, but the team wasn’t disappointed. It was a close game and a challenging one and, most importantly, a chance for St. Anthony’s to see how it fared against an experienced squad.
“I think it was a good litmus test,” coach Sal Lagano said. “When you play teams that know how to win in the last five minutes, it really helps your own team.”
St. Anthony’s (2-3) jumped to a 13-12 lead after the first quarter, but the Friars struggled to pull away. St. Joseph’s answered every bucket with one of its own, wrapping up the second quarter on a 14-6 run.
Still, the Friars were confident heading into the second half and Logano said the team was focused on grabbing some early offense.
“We wanted to get out a little faster,” he said. “I think we created some steals and we were trying to get out and go.”
St. Anthony’s did its best to push tempo, bringing defensive pressure in the half court to try and spark its transitional game. Andre Snoddy led the charge, working on both sides of the ball and dishing an assist to Jevon Burke with 2:07 in the third to give the Friars a 38-37 lead.
“I was trying my hardest to irritate the ball handler,” Snoddy, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, said. “I wanted to get in his head, make him work. Nothing could come easy.”
St. Anthony’s held a two-point lead with 6:42 left, but St. Joseph’s experience proved the difference down the stretch.
Howard McBurnie scored six straight points midway through the fourth quarter to give the Falcons a 56-50 lead and effectively set St. Anthony’s back. The Friars did their best to recover as Burke made it a 56-55 game with 27.1 seconds left, but came up short on their final two posessions.
It would have been easy for St. Anthony’s to walk off the court frustrated, but with Newburgh Free Academy on the schedule today, Logano said he simply hoped his team learned something.
“Teams like St. Joe’s teach you how to play and how to win,” Logano said. “I think their experience took over, but I think it was a good game that hopefully made us better.”