Knights over the second half of the basketball season. Since struggling
to a 2-5 start, the Knights had won ten games in a row. Friday that winning streak came to an abrupt end with a 48-46 loss to
Toledo St. John’s.
No team in northwest Ohio has been hotter than the Toledo St. Francis Knights over the second half of the basketball season. Since struggling to a 2-5 start, the Knights won ten games in a row but, heading into last night’s game against archrival Toledo St. John’s, the Knights still needed a win and some help from fellow league member Toledo Whitmer to qualify for the City League’s playoffs. Unfortunately, the Knights’ winning streak came to an abrupt end with their 48-46 loss to St. John’s. Now the Knights must hope to begin a new winning streak in the state playoffs.
The contest between St. Francis and St. John’s was a back and forth affair all evening with neither team being able to establish a clear advantage. St. Francis led early thanks to 5 for 7 shooting but St. John’s came surging back late in the first quarter to take a 17-11 lead into the second quarter. Early, the Titan defense had difficulty containing the dribble penetration of Knights’ senior Kevin Henry but once that problem was resolved the Knight offense seemed to sputter a bit.
The second quarter could have been disastrous for the Titans as they had great difficulty getting the ball to fall but the Knights’ tendency to turn the ball over (5 turnovers) kept them from pulling ahead of the Titans. Titan sophomore guard, Jay Springs, did a good job of limiting Henry’s effectiveness but the hard-nosed play of Knight junior Steve Yeager picked up the slack and only a last second three pointer by Titan freshmen, Cheatham Norrils, kept the Knights from enjoying a halftime lead.
In the third quarter both teams played like neither one of them wanted to win. A total of 13 points were scored by both teams and none of the thirteen came easily. Both teams shot the ball extremely poorly (SF: 2/9; SJ:2/12) but a lack of turnovers kept the game from degenerating into a totally ugly affair.
The Titans managed to hold onto their precarious lead but, heading into the fourth quarter, the game remained anyone’s for the taking.
The final quarter was far more productive offensively for both teams. Neither team shot particularly well but the tempo was far more upbeat and the scoring opportunities more plentiful. Unfortunately for the Knights, it was the Titans that were able to get that one additional opportunity.
“I told the guys after the game,” said St. Francis coach Nick Lowe, “that we have nothing to be ashamed of. A loose ball here, a loose ball there, a roll on the rim, a foul. This game could have gone either way. They (St. John’s) made the last positive play and they won by 2. I thought it was a very good high school basketball game. Two teams battled. We just fell a little short.”
The story of the game is one that is not immediately apparent on the score sheet.
Early in the game, St. Francis’ leading scorer, Kevin Henry, appeared to be on his way to a big scoring game but Titan sophomore Jay Springs intensified his defensive effort against Henry to hold him under his 15 points per game scoring average.
“My hats off to them (St. Francis), “ said Titan coach Ed Heinstchel. “I think Kevin Henry is the most improved player in the city, not to offend anyone else, but I think where his game is from where it was last year he is the most improved. We spent a lot of time getting ready for him. I think Jay Springs deserves kudos for his efforts, for his defense on Kevin. He didn’t get many good looks when Jay was guarding him and he had to work for everything. That is all you can ask.”
Two players from both teams reached double figures in scoring. For the Titans, Tim Kynard scored 12 points to go along with 7 rebounds while Michael Taylor had 10.
The Knights’ leading scorer was Kevin Henry with 11. Jarrod Henry added 10. Fahro Alihodzic was the Knights’ rebounding leader with 8.
The Titans (13-5) will enter the City League playoffs as the number two seed and play Waite in the semi-finals. The Knights finish the regular season at 12-6 and will see their next action in the state playoffs against Toledo Start.