St. Francis edges Notre Dame

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Being aggressive paid off for the St. Francis High boys’ basketball team, which edged visiting Notre Dame, 61-57, in a Mission League game last Friday night.
Instead of launching long-range jumpers, the Golden Knights went inside the painted area, were often fouled, and marched to the free-throw line, making 19 of 27 attempts.
In the fourth quarter, the Golden Knights converted 11 of 18, but only three of eight from the field.
Five players scored for St. Francis (19 of 44 from the field for 43 percent) in the quarter, including senior shooting guard Tommy Jordan, who added five of his 10 points in the period. Jordan averages 16 points, and is a steadying influence.
Notre Dame (14-9 and 5-5 in league) missed its first four shots from the floor to open the final quarter.
“We had five guys score five points or more,’’ said St. Francis assistant coach Ray O’Brien. “We had scoring from a lot of players. Tommy had a big game (26 points in an 18-point loss) the last time we played Notre Dame, and they weren’t going to let him score that many points tonight. He’s a team player, and he wants to win.”
The Golden Knights (10-12 and 3-7 in league) failed to find the basket on their first two shots in the fourth quarter, before Jordan scored. Sophomore point guard Emerson Castaneda, who scored a game-high 22 points, contributed a basket, and with three minutes left, senior forward Spencer Nieves (12 points) scored to make it 53-51.
Opting for perimeter shots, Notre Dame drilled nine of 16 from the free-throw stripe, and 23 of 53 (43 percent) from the field.
St. Francis snapped a two-game losing streak, and fell behind, 14-12, in the first quarter, but tied the score at the half by outscoring Notre Dame, 17-15, in the second quarter.
Notre Dame, which trailed, 44-43, after three quarters, played well in spurts, and its starters are tall, averaging nearly 6-foot-5. St. Francis’ starters are almost 6-1.
“We give up a lot of height,” said O’Brien. “But we were aggressive from the start, and our defense picked us up in the second half.”
Notre Dame Freshman shooting guard Jahmel Taylor has slendid long-range shooting ability, and is a clever ball-handler with a lightning-quick first step.
The 6-1 Taylor finished with a team-best 18 points, and he sank a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter en route to 10 points.
During stretches, Taylor was a one-man show, weaving around and past defenders with ease, then pulling up for a 14-foot jumper, or if he saw an opening, drive to the rack.
Taylor scored four points in the first quarter, and then was held to one hoop in the second and third quarters.
No other Notre Dame player reached double figures, but 6-5 sophomore center Kennedy Edwards added nine points, while 6-6 senior center Kyle Hebert, and freshman point guard Ansar Madison, each tallied six points.

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