East St. John defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 57-47 in the second round of the CYO Basketball Classic at the Rummel Gymnasium. East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine said he told his team to calm down at halftime.
“My team came into this game with a lot of confidence and energy based on our last performance,” said Jasmine. “We knew we had an advantage, but we just needed to settle down and make good decisions. This game I felt like I had to do more from a coaching stand point because of the way the game was being called. So I wanted to motivate my team and get them going despite what the scoreboard said.”
The Falcons closed within six points during the third quarter. St. Thomas Aquinas coach Vyron Keller said his team had the ability to close the gap further but getting the stops quick enough was another story.
“We knew we could score, but we were fatigued defensively,” Keller said. “We were mentally fatigued toward the end of the game and it caused a lot of turnovers. We hurt our own chances long before the opposition went on their run. We committed way to many self-imposed turnovers. Going into the final minutes I wanted us to score from the free-throw line, but we just didn’t make enough defensive stops.”
The Wildcats widened the gap to double digits again and led 47-38 going into the fourth quarter. Tre’von Jasmine helped hold off a late St. Thomas Aquinas charge by sinking two free throws in the final two minutes. Jasmine finished with 18 points, after a four-point first half.
East St. John jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 6-0 run. However, St. Thomas Aquinas ended the first quarter with a flurry of points from guards Hunter Gebbia and Jacob Drummond. Gebbia scored five points in the first quarter to to cut East St. John’s lead to 16-15. Drummond led all first-half scorers with 15 points. Drummond led the Falcons in scoring with 19 points. Cameron Dantlzer added 10 points and Gebbia finished with 11.
Troy Green led the Wildcats in scoring during the first quarter by posting 11 points. The Wildcats’ Albert Bailey Jr. contributed two consecutive 3-pointers to put his team up 36-32 at halftime. Green and Bailey finished with 13 and 11 points.
East St. John will face St. Augustine in the semifinals Friday night at Jesuit.