February 25th, 2019

St. X Loses 65-63 Nail-Biter at Ballard

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

St. X Loses 65-63 Nail-Biter at Ballard
St.X loses to Ballard 65-53/ photo by Jeff Woods

 St. Xavier’s bid for the Sweet 16 ended with a 65-63 loss to Ballard in the first round of the Seventh Region tournament Monday night. The Tigers close the season with a final record of 17-11. 

“I think tonight we played one of our hardest games and most together games all year. And as a head coach I’m proud of that,” said St. X head coach Kevin Klein. “Very disappointed in the scoreboard for our three seniors not to be able to advance to Valley on Thursday night, but as I told them, I’m so proud of the effort and how these guys connected and came together through adverse times tonight.”
The Bruins tried to put the Tigers away early in the second half. Leading by two at halftime, Ballard opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run to take a 47-34 lead. However, the Tigers answered right back, closing the third on an 11-2 run of their own to pull within four entering the fourth quarter. 
“I thought we were in a great position even when we got down ten. We’ve been in that situation before where we had a strong finish in the second quarter and came out lackluster in the third quarter,” said Klein. “We just had to refocus and get our minds right. And if we could get a few stops and build some momentum defensively, we have a team that can score some points and guys who can make plays in timely situations. And we did that.”
The Tigers trailed 59-53 when Nicholas Mosley drilled a triple to make it a three-point game with 2:20 to go. About a minute later, Ballard senior Walt Johnson scored the last two of his game-high 19 points to push the Bruins’ lead back to five. 
Kyle Bansbach’s bucket with a minute to go made it 61-58, but Ballard answered on the other end with a Rashad Bishop offensive rebound and put back. 
“I thought one of the defining moments of the game was when Walt Johnson took a tough shot in the paint with his left hand fading away, and somehow it went in,” said Klein. “I think that was the play of the game along with the offensive rebound and put back they had late.”
Ballard had four players finish in double figures. Kaleb Glenn scored 15 points while Bishop and Lewis Richards tallied 14 and 13 points. The Bruins move on to face Waggener in the semifinals at Valley High School Thursday night. 
“You have to give St. X a lot of credit,” said Ballard head coach Chris Renner. “That’s a lot of grit and toughness. They got down double digits at least once, maybe twice. And they fought back and made it up all the way to the end.
“We got stops when we needed. We got scores when we needed. We weren’t as good on the boards as I had hoped. That’s a credit to St. X. They did a great job rebounding. We turned the ball over. A part of that was St. X trapping and that caused us problems. But when you get to this point, you just want to get a win.”
Mosley led the way for the Tigers with 18 points. Sebian Dillard also hit double figures with 12 points. 
“We had a great year,” said Klein. “I’m very proud of a 9-0 start and coming out with not a lot of people having high expectations for us after last year, except for the guys and coaches in the locker room. And that’s what we rallied around. We had some great wins against Waggener, Seneca, and Woodford County in December. We hit a hiccup in January, but these guys kept fighting and believing.
“As a coach, we all want to win games, but I’m a leader of young men, and I want these guys to learn from this program and be successful in college and life.”

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