On a night when it seemed no one from either team could miss from long-range, the basketball team did just enough from inside the three-point arc Tuesday night, to overcome a record shooting night by visiting crosstown rival to pull out a 64-54 win in a critical Metro Catholic Conference game.
“They were struggling to get points in the paint,” De Smet head coach Kevin Poelker said. “But credit to them, they devised a way to get themselves some open looks from outside, and they didn’t miss them.”
No they did not.
The Red Devils hit a school-record 15 three-pointers (on 31 attempts) on Tuesday, to stay in a game that seemed destined to be a De Smet blowout from the outset.
In fact, it was Spartan junior point guard Jimmy Barton who got the hot shooting going, by knocking down five straight three-point attempts in the first quarter-and-a-half to help De Smet build 16-5 (first quarter) and 29-12 (second quarter) leads.
Barton finished with a game-high 20 points and 10 assists to lead De Smet, but Chaminade’s prowess from long-range almost proved too much for even Barton’s brilliant double-double to overcome.
“Well if we would’ve been a little smarter on the offensive end, then they don’t get the chance to shoot 15 (three-pointers),” Poelker said. “If we keep our composure and play our game a little bit better, that wouldn’t have been as big a problem in the game.”
Chaminade’s shooting barrage began just after Barton’s fifth ‘3’, when Red Devil backcourt mates Damon Patterson and Andy Kleinlein hit back-to-back jumpers from behind the arc to get their team back in the game.
De Smet still led 35-21 at halftime, but Chaminade was just getting started.
In the second half, the Red Devils hit nine three-pointers to stay in a game that at nearly every turn seemed like it was about to get lopsided in De Smet’s favor.
There were three different occasions in the third quarter when the Spartans pushed the lead to 15 points, but each time someone from Chaminade would hit a three-pointer to get the Red Devils back to within 12.
Then in the fourth quarter, when De Smet got a little careless with its passing and shot selection, Chaminade went on an 11-4 run to pull to within 55-51 with just under three minutes left.
But that’s when Barton made the play of the game for De Smet, finding teammate Alec Bausch for a conventional three-point play layup that made the score 58-51.
From there, Barton knocked down a series of final minute free throws to close out a nail-biting win for the Spartans.
“When we really needed it, we put it back together,” Poelker said. “And that’s a good thing. But I’d rather see us not need to put it back together.”
The victory gave De Smet its 10th win of the year, and lifted the Spartans to 10-4 overall this season and 4-1 in MCC play, which is good enough for second place in the conference behind undefeated and No. 1-ranked Vianney.
Chaminade fell to 5-10 overall and 0-4 in league play, following its fifth loss in its last six games. The Red Devils will be looking to get back on the winning track though, when they compete in the Denver Miller Tournament at Kirkwood High this weekend.
On Thursday, Chaminade will begin first round play with a matchup against Duchesne High at 6:30 p.m.
Should the Red Devils win, they’ll play the winner of the Normandy-Riverview Gardens Thursday night game, on Friday, in the semifinals, with the chance to advance to the championship or third-place game on Saturday.
De Smet, which has won both games its played in 2012, will be back in action on Friday night, when the Spartans will host Jefferson City (MO) High at 7 p.m.
“We haven’t addressed them a whole lot, but I know they play hard,” Poelker said. “They knocked off Hazelwood Central earlier in the year at Hazelwood Central. So we know they’re going to come in here and be ready to go.
“They’ve got good athletes, and they’re good at pressure, so we’re going to have to be ready to go.”