January 25th, 2019

Tigers Falter Late in Loss to Ballard

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Tigers Falter Late in Loss to Ballard
St. X falls to Ballard 70-59/ photo by Jeff Woods

St. Xavier outplayed Ballard through three quarters, but could not close the deal in a 70-59 loss Friday night. The Tigers were outscored 27-6 in the fourth quarter, after leading by as many 14 in the second half.

“You have to give Ballard a lot of credit,” said St. Xavier head coach Kevin Klein. “They stepped it up to a level that they had not been playing and forced us into some decisions that we had not made in the first three quarters. And when you don’t see the ball go in for a few possessions and you can’t get a couple of crucial stops, momentum changes, and we have to learn how to respond better.”

Mekhi Smith’s layup with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter gave the Tigers a 53-41 advantage. Aside from a goaltend with less than a minute to play, Smith’s layup was St. X’s last made shot from the floor.

“Execution-wise, we had about three plays that we thought would’ve been baskets that were turnovers because we did not execute them correctly,” said Klein. “And that’s something we have to get better at.

“At the end of the day, you have to try to stop the bleeding, you have to come together, and you need a guy to step up to make that play to get some positive vibes and energy. We just couldn’t find that crucial basket we needed late.”

The first three quarters were a completely different story. The Tigers routinely outhustled the Bruins and led by double digits for most of the night, much to the chagrin of Ballard head coach Chris Renner.

“At halftime, I just went and talked to them and said they’re not responding to me,” said Renner. “They weren’t responding to things I was saying and coaching them, so I just let (assistant coach Ray Kline) take over, and I just sat there, and they responded to him. Maybe we need to do that the rest of the season, I don’t know.”

“When we try to pressure people, it’s usually a cumulative thing where it takes a while,” said Kline. “I thought even though our pressure wasn’t great at times, by the fourth quarter it looked like they were starting to fatigue a little bit. I thought our guys did a good job of pressuring the ball without reaching and making silly fouls.”

St. Xavier junior Sebian Dillard finished with a game-high 19 points. Nicholas Mosley scored 16 points while Sam Boarman posted a double-double with eleven points and eleven rebounds.

Following the game, Klein pointed to those first three quarters as a reason to remain optimistic.

“I think this team has a lot of fight. They’re playing with unbelievable effort and energy, and you have to sustain that when momentum is turned against you,” Klein said. “But I think we have played the best team basketball that we’ve played all year in these last two games. That’s a very strong positive to build on.”

Both teams are back in action Tuesday night. St. Xavier (13-6) hosts Collegiate while Ballard (13-8) visits KCD.


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