The St. Paul’s Wolves were down the first 20 minutes, but they were never out and ultimately that fighting spirit propelled them to victory.
Parker Edwards scored 33 points, Devonte Allen added 14 and St. Paul’s rallied to defeat John Curtis 68-63 and advance to the second round of the Country Day Classic.
The Wolves never trailed or led by more than six, but they didn’t get their first lead until Edwards sank a 3-pointer 3½ minutes into the third quarter. St. Paul's coach Stephen Dale was impressed by his teams resurgent effort in the second half.
“Around the end of the third quarter we really picked up our defensive intensity,” he said. “We started making it really tough on them, and that’s all we can ask for. They’re a really good team, and they’ve got their full team back (from football season). They’ve got some good players, so they’re going to give teams trouble, but I think our intensity improving turned it for us.
“We’ve got to take better care of the ball. We need to start better and not wait until the end of the game to bring that intensity but then down the stretch taking care of the ball will help not make it so interesting late in the game.”
Edwards agreed that effort was the biggest factor in the comeback.
“I think our intensity on defense really picked up a lot,” he said. “I think that helped us lock down and make enough stops for us to get the win. Our coaches told us moving forward we just got to take it one day at a time and one game at a time. Whoever we play we figure out what they do, and then we do what we do.”
For the Patriots the game, though certainly a letdown, marked a turning point as it was their first game with the players they were missing from football season. Those players made their mark as Donnell Jones scored 28 points in his first action of the year. Patriots coach Mike Krajcer had little to say after.
“It’s our first game,” he said. “We’ll be fine. I just tell them to play. We’ll be all right.”
The game was competitive throughout as Jones and Edwards both scored 12 apiece in the first quarter with Curtis holding a 35-31 lead at halftime.
The Wolves continued to fight as they took the lead with 4:35 left in the third on an Edwards 3-pointer. The two then traded the lead back and forth with St. Paul's holding a 52-51 advantage after three.
With 1:50 remaining Chandler Owenby’s dunk gave a St. Paul’s a six-point lead, their biggest. Rashad Holmes pulled the Patriots within three with 35 seconds remaining but Isiah Phillips’ free throws with 32 seconds left secured the win for St. Paul’s.