That big upset by the St. Joseph boys basketball team is coming. It almost happened on Saturday night against Tremper, like it almost happened the night before versus Burlington.
Despite leading for 33 of the game’s 36 minutes, the Lancers (2-6) fell to Tremper (5-5), 64-57, on the final day of the Doctors of PT Holiday Classic at Carthage College’s Tarble Arena. St. Joseph lost to Burlington, 63-54, on Friday
Starting four small freshmen with a small senior point guard, the undersized Lancers use an energized, up-tempo offense and a scrappy defense to make up for their lack of size.
St. Joseph took a 10-7 lead with 11 minutes, 12 seconds left in the opening half on a putback by Andrew Alia, who scored 16 points before the intermission.
Tremper went up by three, 15-12, at 7:40 on a breakaway layup by Jyon Young. A 3-pointer by Alia at 6:18 gave the Lancers the lead for the rest of the first half. Caiden Lecce’s breakaway layup at 3:17 and another layup by Tim Berry at 1:56 gave St. Joseph its biggest lead of the period at 25-19. The Lancers led by four at break, 27-23.
Tremper pulled to within two on the first field goal of the second half, but a 3-pointer by Jacob Ashmus and a put back by Alia gave St. Joseph a seven-point lead, 32-25, at 15:25.
The Trojans cut the lead to a point on two occasions, but the Lancers went back up by five, 46-41 at 8:13 on a layup by Berry. Tremper tied the contest, 50-50, at 2:29 on a sweeping Jyon Young layup. The Trojans then took their first lead since 7:30 first half, 52-50, at 2:24 on a pair of free throws by Zayshan Coleman.
After St. Joseph turned the ball over at 2:02, Young scored on another layup at 1:49 to put the Trojans up by four, 54-50. Two free throws by Joe Polk at 1:04 upped the Tremper lead to six, 56-50, but a long 3-pointer from the corner by Ashmus with 56 seconds left made it a three-point game, 56-53.
St. Joseph got it to three one more time, 58-55, with 38 seconds to go, but Tremper converted nine-of-12 free throws in the final 43 seconds to ice the win. The Trojans now have a four-game winning streak after losing five in a row.
“I honestly didn’t think we were out of this game until we got to 6.6 seconds and trailed by seven,” St. Joseph coach Brandon Morris said.
“This is an excellent group of kids, as well as excellent basketball players. They’re respectful and coachable, which makes our job very easy. They’re not selfish, almost to fault. Every challenge we throw at them, either in practice or during games, they try and meet that challenge.
“They’re all good athletes, and they make good decisions. Every kid is a three or four-sport athlete, and when you’re playing that many sports, and you’re coachable, that really helps. We’re scrappy and play with a lot of heart.”
Leading St. Joseph were Alia with 26 points, followed by Tim Berry with 16.