Pattonville Mounts Second Half Comeback, Bests Whitfield
The Pirates overcame a 30 point effort from Justin Thomas.
A close first half saw Pattonville take a 15-11 lead after the first quarter, only to see Whitfield take a 26-23 halftime edge, on the strength of senior guard Justin Thomas and his 14 first half points. Thomas, who finished with a game high 30, has been carrying the load for Whitfield after junior forward Dmitri Rucker suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Ritenour December 14.
The injury cut into the depth of an already-thin roster, which played roughly six deep at the start of the season, leaving Thomas to fill a scoring and leadership void on the court.
"He's coming into his own. He's really starting to understand how to play. He's defintely a dynamic player that not many people know about," Whitfield Head Coach Mike Potsou said of a player who came in as a wiry freshman and now as a senior, is "15 pounds away from being close to unstoppable" offensively.
Thomas had a fast start in the second half, helping to build a 10 point lead. But Pattonville clawed back with three point shooting from guards Greg Waters and Eddie Longmeyer to match the interior play from forward Nate Higgins, who gave the Pirates a 40-39 lead with a 4th quarter putback and converted a three point play on the next possession to go to 43-39.
After a quiet fourth quarter shooting, a pair of Thomas threes cut the Pattonville lead to 52-51 with 13.4 remaining. But Pattonville forced a held-ball as Thomas drove to the basket late and Bryce Berry attempt fell short, giving the homestanding Pirates the win.
"We looked real sluggish," Pirate head coach Kelly Thames said, after his team's first game since falling in the finals of the Chaminade Christmas Tournament against John Burroughs last weekend. "I'm just happy we got a win."
"For playing a large school and obviously being short-handed with the numbers that we have our guys did a really good job competing," Potsou, the Whitfield Coach and Pattonville graduate said.
"We were in position to win the game at the end and that's all you can ask right now," he said.
Pattonville (8-2) hosts Riverview Gardens at home Tuesday while Whitfield (4-6) goes on the road to play CBC in the Cadets' DC Wilcutt Tournament.
Notes: Potsou said Rucker underwent knee surgery this week and is in good spirits. In the crowd was Corey Tate, the former Pirate standout who went onto a career at the University of Missouri, before getting into coaching at Mineral College