When discussing how the tournament-style play of the Doctors of PT Holiday Classic would be good preparation for his young team in the future, first-year St. Joseph coach Brandon Morris said it emulates postseason play.
And, he said, "the state tournament."
No, Morris wasn't making any wild predictions, but it's also likely he didn't choose those words by accident.
The Lancers started four freshman - they often start five - in Friday night's 63-54 loss to Burlington at Tarble Arena, but there wasn't a moment in the game where St. Joseph didn't impress with its effort and tenacity.
Yes, the Lancers dropped to 2-5 with the defeat, but they led a much bigger Burlington squad - which currently sits atop the Southern Lakes Conference - 20-16 with 4 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half and even made a second-half run after falling well behind.
"I give credit to these guys every single day," Morris of his team's effort.
Added longtime Burlington coach Steve Berezowitz: "They've got a good group of kids. They were patient with their offense, and Brandon knows what he wants to do."
Alia paces Lancers
Freshman Andrew Alia scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and added four rebounds for St. Joseph, junior Joey Feudner scored eight points and senior Tim Berry had seven points and nine rebounds.
Burlington sophomore Joey Berezowitz, who goes just 5-foot-7 but dribbles the ball on a string, paced the Demons (7-3) with 21 points.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Feudner and a free throw by freshman Jacob Ashmus gave St. Joseph a 20-16 lead with 4:31 left in the opening half, but Burlington closed it on a 10-2 run to take a 26-22 halftime lead.
A 7-0 run, punctuated by an Alia putback with a little over 5 minutes remaining, got St. Joseph within 50-42, but the Lancers missed a couple open 3s as the Demons pushed their lead back out to 63-46 late.