By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The St. Paul boys basketball team put on a clinic on how to destroy a team’s confidence right off the initial jump-ball of a game and Seymour was the unfortunate victim on Thursday, Feb. 14.
And all the Wildcats could do was hold on for dear life as the Falcons literally suffocated the visiting team with full-court pressure and netted the first 20 points of the contest in blazing fashion.
In a matter of three minutes and 56 seconds, the game was all but over as St. Paul led from wire-to-wire and seized a 91-53 win over Seymour from the Maltby Street Gymnasium in Bristol.
It was another total team effort that fueled this one that left Seymour a little bit more than bewildered, dazed and confused after 32 minutes of all-out basketball warfare.
St. Paul’s defense certainly led to early offense as the Falcons forced nine quick turnovers over the first 3:34 of the showdown and turned most of those gaffes into hoops and points.
And that leads to the old saying: defense leads to offense.
“We’ve really been preaching that most of the year,” said St. Paul coach Steve Phelps about defense leading to offense. “We’ve always defended pretty good with a couple of exceptions but we’d been lax at times with some of our pressure stuff. Tonight I thought our kids did a great job (defending).”
Defensively, the Falcons had Seymour’s number as the Wildcats shot 39 percent from the field and – while hitting eight three-pointers in the game – seemed satisfied in shooting long range attempts that were of the low percentage value.
The Falcons out-rebounded Seymour 42-17 and allowed the visitors only four offensive rebounds in the game.
St. Paul’s offense was just as crisp as the squad hit nearly 66 percent of its field goals in the first half and nailed 60 percent overall in the game.
And just about everybody who suited up for the Falcons got into the mix offensively.
Kyle Dube led the charge with 18 points and 10 rebounds while also dishing out four assists. Brendan Carroll drilled 12 of his 14 points in the first quarter of action and Logan Marchi was once again active and threw in a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Jake Kawiecki banged in three three-pointers and captured 11 points off the bench while Reid Morin looped in several rebounds and steals in the contest.
Tyler Jones did his best John Stockton impression as he racked in six points and a team best seven assists.
Along with Kawiecki, the bench performed extremely well by netting 41 total points and did not yield an inch.
D.J. Rodriguez added nine points and four rebounds. Troy Micale punched in seven points. Jordan Rowley had six. Josh Dobratz pumped in four. Esias Haynes hit a hoop. And Nick Vallani also hit for two points plus added six assists in the winning effort.
It’s called sharing the wealth and everyone made a contribution.
“We’re 9-9 but as critical sometimes as I’ve been of our kids, the one thing that’s never been questioned is the effort in which they played whether it’s a win or a loss,” said Phelps. “But what we’ve got caught doing at times is when teams have put a run on us, we play harder but we don’t play smarter. I thought that tonight under the circumstances, we continued to play hard but I thought we played smarter.”
Tyler Stevens scored 20 for the Wildcats and hit four long bombs in the game. But by the time he got hot, the game was long out of reach.
Seymour never quit, eventually cutting the deficit to 14 early in the second stanza.
However, St. Paul was just too hot from the field and those stops did little in terms of slowing down the Falcons’ train.
St. Paul rolled out to the 20-0 push as Dube, Carroll, and Marchi did all the scoring and Seymour’s turnovers piled up quickly.
Leading 10-0, Carroll hit 10 straight points in an amazing shooting exhibition in a matter of 1:53 and with 4:04 left to go in the first, St. Paul’s 20-0 push ended any early suspense.
“I thought we disrupted Seymour early,” said Phelps. “We did talk about it. If we could get some easy conversions and easy looks, it makes the three-pointers feel a lot easier, it makes the put-back feel a lot easier.”
Later in the frame, Jones hit for two and Rodriguez connected on three straight hoops for St. Paul and by the completion of one stanza, the home team led 28-12.
Seymour hung around in the second tilt and off a hoop by Jimmy Vartelas, the deficit was cut to 36-21 with 5:19 left before the half.
However, there wouldn’t be any additional scoring by the Wildcats in the first half as the Falcons went into intermission off a 17-0 spurt.
Dube scored the team’s last five points and the Falcons seized a 53-21 halftime cushion.
An offensive rebound and put-back by Dube pushed the St. Paul lead out to 62-25 with 4:43 left in the third and even as Seymour went on an 8-0 run, the deficit was still too great to dent and the visitors were trailing 67-36 with eight minutes remaining in the fray.
The Falcons pushed the edge out to 36 points as two three-pointers by Kawiecki and a lay up by Micale pushed that imposing lead right back out.
Late in the period, Dobratz and Hayes drilled shots for the Falcons. At the final horn, St. Paul picked up its biggest win of the season and a 38-point triumph over the Wildcats.
“All in all, to get back to .500 it was a well played game for us,” said Phelps. “I’m satisfied with the way that we played and the things that we did.”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver. com.