St. Mary's guard Patrick Jackson would like to see his teammates make at least one adjustment before their next basketball game.
"I really think it's about our heart," Jackson said. "We have to work harder and show how bad we really want to win these games."
St. Mary's showed spirit late in a non-league game Saturday, but it was doomed by a lackluster first quarter and lost, 61-55, to Brooklyn's Boys & Girls High School at Baruch College in the 11th annual Big Apple Basketball High School Invitational.
The score was tied six times, and as late as in the middle of the third quarter, but St. Mary's never led.
St. Mary's trailed 16-10 after the first quarter, mostly because of turnovers and Shaliek Ulysse's hot shooting for Boys & Girls. Ulysse finished with 19 points.
"In that first quarter, we came out really slow and didn't play defense like we should've," said Stephen Milhaven, who had 18 points and nine rebounds. "We gave them three, four chances to score at times, too."
St. Mary's (9-4) starts two freshmen (Chris Coalman and Nicholas Richards) and a sophomore (Damani Myers) in addition to Milhaven, a senior, and Jackson, a junior.
Despite being inexperienced, Jackson said that's not an excuse.
"We, for whatever reason, always wait until the second half to play," said Jackson, who scored 16 points. "I have no idea why. I guess maybe because we're young, and some would say we played a little scared at the start but I'm not sure if that's really the case."
St. Mary's began to play much better at the beginning of the second quarter. Richards was a force on the block and finished with 16 rebounds and three blocks. His presence also helped to force turnovers, which led to fast-break points.
"We were always in this game," Milhaven said. "At the half, we decided we had to start boxing out more and executing our plays."
After struggling to find his shot, Jackson began driving to the basket and drawing fouls in the second half. He was 4-for-7 from the line and got his team to within three points, 54-51, in the fourth quarter with a three-point play. Yet that's as close as St. Mary's got down the stretch.
"Shots weren't falling for me," Jackson said. "So I had to find another way to score because I can't always depend on my jump shot."
Jackson said he relishes his leadership role on the team and had one message to his teammates following the loss: "We can't worry about this one game, there's way more left to play."
"For sure, we were in this game," Jackson added. "Just next time, we need to play all four quarters."