PERU - When did St. Bede coach Brian Hanson feel comfortable about Friday night’s game with Bureau Valley?
“Sitting here with you and drinking a bottle of water,” the Bruins coach said from the St. Bede coach’s office after the Bruins’ up and down 60-45 victory over the Storm.
The Bruins led 11-3 early and 18-7 after the first quarter. They went by as much as 19 points in the second and by 17 in the third.
Each time, the Storm cut their deficit to single digits, closing as close as six points with six minutes remaining in the game. The Bruins ran off eight straight points and pulled away to the 15-point final margin.
“Both teams played hard. We came more aggressive in the first quarter and after halftime they really stepped it up and it became a close game second half,” St. Bede senior Luke Story said, adding that he loves competing at the level.
The Storm (9-10) made three free throws to close out the first half at 36-20 and continued their upward swing by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter to close to 36-27.
St. Bede senior Paul Hart, who added 27 points to his newly crowned title as the Academy’s scoring leader, got St. Bede on the board with a pair of free throws. Callan Hueneberg and Story hit 3-pointers to run the Bruins’ lead back up to 17 at 44-27.
The Storm had another charge left in them, ending the third quarter on a 9-0 run to pull within seven. Carter Salisbury hooped twice, Adam Johnson scored on the Storm’s “Jerry Leggett” inbounds play and Sam Wright scored on a dish by Salisbury off a steal to make it 47-40 at quarter’s end.
“You just can’t fall asleep to these guys. We’re not the type of team that’s ever going to go out and pound people. You just can’t pull up your guard,” Hanson said.
Hart swished a trey, but Isaac Attig scored in the post and Layton Britt added a free throw as the Storm closed within 50-44 with about six minutes to play.
St. Bede (11-7, 2-2) righted the ship with two free throws by Hart, a 3-pointer by Story, a reverse layup by Duncan Lawler and another charity toss by Hart to put the game away at 58-44.
Hanson knew Bureau Valley was going to make a run.
“The thing is, they play as hard as anyone ever plays. And you can be up 20 first half,” he said. “Look at what they did. It was 16, i think, and the next thing I know, it’s single digits. Then we get back up to 17 again and then it’s down to six, 50-44.
“You can not relax and nobody ever should. They’re a perfect example. Salisbury can dictate a lot of things that go on in the game just with the ball-handling. I thought Luke did a heckuva job on him and he still got 19 and Luke played great defense.”
The Storm had a similar roller-coaster, up and down loss against Newman on Wednesday night.
“Some people probably call us resilient and others would call us inconsistent,” BV coach Jason Marquis said.
Salisbury led BV with 19 points and Johnson added 12.
Hart led all scorers with 27 points to go with 22 rebounds and Story chipped in 17 points.
Story said it’s a lot of fun playing alongside Hart.
“We help each other out and make each other better,” he said.
Hanson said Story has been providing the Bruins with another nice weapon to go with Hart, combining for 44 of the Bruins’ 65 tally.
“Luke’s been scoring for us. He had 18 over at Newman, 20 at Kewanee. He’s starting to shoot that ball with a lot of confidence and it’s really showing,” Hanson said. “He’s a gamer. When the lights are on, he’s ready.
“He played every minute of the game and he guarded Salisbury every possession. He wants that. That’s what’s great about him.”
Marquis said Hart really had his game stepped up in the first half, scoring 17 points with a flurry of rebounds.
“I thought there wasn’t a player in the first half who wanted the ball off the rim more than him. It’s a testament of his will and his desire to do what he can,” Marquis said. “Think about the play to close out the second half. He missed a 3-point shot and he’s the one who got his own rebound to get to the free throw line.”
Salisbury opened the game with a 3-pointer, but the Bruins ran off 11 straight to go up 11-3. Hart scored on a putback and a breakaway before Story beat the buzzer for a trey from the right wing to put the Bruins up 18-7 at quarter’s end.
“To be honest, I thought the buzzer was going to ring before I shot, but luckily I got it off in time and then it went in,” Story said.