Wolves hold off Blue Wave

St. Francis guard Gabe Salamida puts up a shot past P.K. Yonge defender Stephen Brown (42) on Thursday night.

Matt Stamey/ Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 12:04 a.m.

St. Francis coach Jack Butler has coached long enough to know that a balanced scoring attack is tougher to defend, especially in tight contests.

Take Thursday's District 3-3A battle at traditional-power P.K. Yonge.

The Wolves had five players in double figures, led by Jake Nangle's 16 points, but needed some defensive stands to withstand a frantic Blue Wave rally for a 82-77 victory.

Gabe Salamida tossed in 15, Ryan McCloskey and Jermaine Kirkland each had 14 and Ray King added 10 as St. Francis improved to 12-3 on the season, and 4-1 in the district. P.K. Yonge, under first-year coach Jeff Myers, dropped to 4-5 overall and 3-1 in the district.

The Wolves won despite the Wave's 12 3-pointers, led by Van Turner who had five and a game-high 19 points.

“That's their brand of ball and they do a great job with it,” Butler said. “They press you and rotate their lineup every 45 to 50 seconds and press you some more. And they shoot the treys.

“This was a big win for us, and we get to play them again at our place. But like I told our team, the game on Saturday (at home vs. district foe St. Joseph) is just as important as tonight's game.”

The Wolves started taking control of the game toward the end of the first half, hitting on five straight free throws and getting baskets from Andrew Wasik and Salamida to build a 42-34 lead at the half.

That eight-point lead grew to 13 (60-47) after a 3-pointer from Salamida, and St. Francis seemed in firm control entering the fourth with a 12-point edge (68-56).

Back-to-back baskets by Marcel Manning and Diandre Smith pulled P.K. Yonge to within eight (80-72) with about a minute left. The Wolves then missed four straight free throws, opening the door for the Blue Wave, who pulled within 80-77 after an inside basket from Josiah Blakemore. But on the ensuing pass-in, Kirkland broke away wide-open for a long pass and consequent basket with four seconds left, and P.K. Yonge couldn't recover.

“They missed four shots at the end of the game in a row that gave us a chance,” Myers said. “We just had a mental breakdown letting a guy get deep on us. The game was close all game, all it takes is two shots and were right back in it.

“We were just 7 of 19 from the foul line, and that really hurt us. If we made more foul shots it would have been closer and maybe they would have cracked under pressure.”

Gerald Jackson was also in double figures for the Blue Wave with 10 points.

In the preceding girls game, P.K. Yonge dominated St. Francis, winning easily 53-6. Baylor-bound Niya Johnson, who played a little more than a quarter, had nine points as did freshman Kiarah Mallory to lead all scorers as the Blue Wave improved to 14-1 on the season and 3-0 in the district. The Wolves dropped to 3-9 and 0-3.

Contact Larry Savage at 352-374-5050 or larry.savage@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/sunpreps

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