St. Charles East upends St. Joseph

  • St. Charles East's Zach Mitchell looks for a teammate to pass the ball to against St. Joseph Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East.

      St. Charles East's Zach Mitchell looks for a teammate to pass the ball to against St. Joseph Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles East's Justin Hardy tries to reach a loose ball against St. Joseph's Jordan Boyd Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East.

      St. Charles East's Justin Hardy tries to reach a loose ball against St. Joseph's Jordan Boyd Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles East's Zachary Mitchell drives around St. Joseph's Marquise Walker Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East High School.

      St. Charles East's Zachary Mitchell drives around St. Joseph's Marquise Walker Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East High School. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles East's Zachary Robinson drives past St. Joseph's Jason Towers Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East High School.

      St. Charles East's Zachary Robinson drives past St. Joseph's Jason Towers Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East High School. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles East's Alec Champine brings the ball up court with teammates Zachary Robinson and Zachary Mitchell as head coach Patrick Woods delivers instructions against St. Joseph Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East High School.

      St. Charles East's Alec Champine brings the ball up court with teammates Zachary Robinson and Zachary Mitchell as head coach Patrick Woods delivers instructions against St. Joseph Friday at the 58th Ron Johnson Boys Basketball Tournament at St. Charles East High School. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/25/2016 10:16 PM

St. Charles East was in the midst of a fourth-quarter offensive meltdown in its boys basketball game against traditional state power St. Joseph.

At its Ron Johnson Tournament Friday night in St. Charles, the Saints were able only to muster 2 field-goal attempts in the final quarter, which began with the team holding the largest lead of the night at 8 points.

 

But St. Joseph used savage defensive pressure in the closing minutes to force 5 consecutive turnovers.

Justin Hardy bailed out his team.

The junior, who scored a game 20 points, split two free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining to break the last of five ties.

The Saints escaped with a 51-50 victory when the Chargers' Jordan Boyd had his desperation 3-pointer rim in and out as time expired.

"I think we just weren't confident with the ball," Hardy said of the an extended stretch late in the fourth quarter in which a shot attempt -- let alone points -- failed to materialize.

"We talked about it," Hardy said. "'Hey, this is our game to win, not our game to lose.' "

The Chargers' Joffari Brown tied the game with 63 seconds remaining with a free throw.

St. Charles East (3-0) ran more than a minute of the clock when Hardy was fouled on a one-handed runner in the game.

An equally critical stretch transpired moments earlier when -- during the Saints' travails handling the ball -- St. Joseph missed badly on consecutive possessions in an attempt to tie the game with 3-pointers.

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"The key to that sequence was us getting the defensive rebound," St. Charles East coach Pat Woods said. "We kind of wanted them to take that shot."

St. Joseph legend Gene PIngatore, with nearly 1,000 career wins as the winningest boys coach in state history, duplicated Woods' thoughts on the back-to-back possessions.

"Shot selection is very important, especially against a big team," Pingatore said. "We take a bad shot, and it's only one shot."

The other standout player for St. Charles East was guard Zach Robinson, who slashed and burned his way for 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

"He was great for us in spurts," Woods said of Robinson.

There were nine lead changes for the game, including several in the opening half.

But St. Charles East, which plays St. Charles North Saturday for the tournament title, closed the half on a 17-11 run to take a 31-29 lead into halftime.

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