March 4th, 2020

Tigers defeat rivals to advance in 7th region


Ed Peak

Staff Writer

Tigers defeat rivals to advance in 7th region
Tigers defeat rivals to advance in 7th region/ photo by Ed Peak

St. Xavier's Simon Smith was locked in. He knew it and his coach Kevin Klein could tell Smith was on a mission. The 6-foot-4 senior forward did a little bit of everything helping lead the Tigers to a 58-47 win host rival Trinity, Tuesday night, in a Seventh Region quarter final game.


A sold out Steinhauser Gymnasium saw St. X (19-11) jump to an early lead and then held off the defending state champions for the victory.


Smith scored 23 points making seven of eight shots from the field and seven of nine free throws. He also had five rebounds and two assist. 


"Simon was amazing," said Klein. "We challenged him early. The game plan was to get him touches and let him go to work and that would open up other guys on the perimeter. To see him play with that intensity and toughness and that look like nobody could guard him."


Smith got St. X going early with nine points in the first quarter as the Tigers jumped to a 17-6 lead. Trinity got within 17-11 early in the second quarter but junior guard Ben Varga, who had 19 points, made two long three point baskets pushing the lead to 23-11.


"I take a lot of pride in my jump shot," said Varga. "We have shooting segments everyday in practice and I always try to stay and get shots up. Get in there early get shots up. I just try to get better at it everyday."


Varga was six of 13 from the floor including five of nine from three point range. 

St. X led 42-27 late in the third quarter before the Shamrocks put on a run scoring eight straight points to get within seven after a layup by Dudley Cox with 1:51.


However Smith drifted to the left received a pass faked a shot from deep then let fly and swished his second three pointer. Varga's three restored the Tigers lead to 48-39 after three quarters.


Trinity got within 50-42 but junior center Ayden Mudd scored on a rebound basket and two free throws with a minute left restoring the lead to 54-43. "Ayden was just an animal on the boards out there," said Smith. "I thought I would get some rebounds but he just came flying in."  Mudd finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds.


"Ayden's effort was enormous," said Klein. "Ayden has been ready for this moment for a good stretch of this season. We know what his potential is. We see him everyday. He sets the tone with his defense and rebounding everything else comes to him on both ends. It's a huge spark for our team.


"We gave him a simple challenge before the game. We told him he could take over this game with rebounding. He bought into that and we needed that in a big way."


St. X made 18 of 36 shots from the floor for 50 percent and seven of 13 three pointers and out rebounded the Shamrocks 36-22. The Tigers did turn the ball over 17 times.

On the other hand Trinity simply couldn't make shots from the floor making 18 of 58 for 31 percent and just one of 20 three pointers. The Shamrocks missed their first eight shots in the fourth quarter. Dudley Cox led the Shamrocks with 16 points and four assist.


"Honestly, I liked the shots we got," said Trinity coach Mike Szabo. "When you go one for 20 from three your not going to win. We knew with their size we would have to make some threes and we just didn't."


Szabo was happy that his team kept fighting. "We kept fighting, got back into it. Cut it to six, had a good look, little shot in the lane and missed that one. We just never could make that basket that would get us over the hump and get us back in the game."


St. X advances to play Ballard (27-6) a 92-50 winner over Manual, Saturday at Valley. The Bruins beat St. X 85-42 on January 24.


"It was a extremely big atmosphere," said Smith. "I was nervous for the game. But we were prepared for the game. We were playing hard, having fun out there."


When things got close in the fourth quarter, Smith wasn't worried. "I wasn't too worried. I knew we could keep the lead. We did what we were told to do and trusted our training."




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