The opening session of Day Two at Slam Dunk to the Beach featured some high-flying fireworks, Mount St. Joseph (MD) got the day started with a 63-47 triumph over St. Georges (DE).
St. Georges jumped out to an early 13-4 edge in game one, but a 30-second timeout by Mount St. Joseph coupled with a defensive adjustment keyed a run by the Gaels. A suffocating full-court press led to five St. Georges turnovers in the final 3:41 of the opening quarter and got Mount St. Joseph to within 17-16 after eight minutes.
The defensive surge continued into the second period as St. Georges went scoreless over the first three minutes and committed three more turnovers during that stretch. The Seahawks went almost six full minutes without a field goal and finished the first half with 10 giveaways. Mount St. Joseph took a 26-24 edge into intermission.
"We did scout them yesterday and we felt like our pressure could be bothersome," said Mount St. Joseph head coach Pat Clatchey. "It kind of gives us a chance to create a little bit more tempo and things like that. Some teams you can’t do that against, but we felt like, while that was a good team, once we got it out of #2’s (Kyson Rawls) hands, the decision making and the ball handling was a little questionable.”
The pressure persisted into the second half, as St. Georges continued to rush shots and turn the ball over. Mount St. Joseph scored the first nine points of the third quarter and kept St. Georges off the board for almost four minutes to open up a double-digit edge, 35-24.
The offense took over from their for Mount St. Joseph. Nigel Jackson knocked down a trio of treys as the lead swelled to as large as 22 in the fourth quarter. Jackson led the Gaels with 17 points, 15 of which came after the break. Darryl Morsell added 12 points while Randy Miller had 11.
"Nigel’s a really good shooter," Clatchey said. "He’s only a sophomore and he got hot, but guys were finding him. He just had the confidence and the rhythm to really knock shots down. The ball found him, and I told him, 'I’m a big believer that when you do the hustle and the effort things, God rewards you.'
When he dove on the floor and came up with the loose ball and got us a bucket, the basketball Gods just said it was time for Jackson to have a great game, and he did.
Kyson Rawls carried St. Georges with 18 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
“We had a great first quarter. The second quarter was good but we didn’t play as well as the first quarter, and it still was only a two-point game at halftime. I think we let them off the hook in that first quarter,” said St. Georges Head Coach Rod Griffin. “We were up 17-10 and I subbed, tried to rest the guys for about a minute, and they scored three quick baskets, and I think that turned the tide and the momentum in their favor. But it’s a lesson learned and we try to get guys an opportunity to play on the big stage and get some experience. But we’ll learn from this and try to get better.”
A dominant second half was the story of the day one opening session’s finale. Despite taking a 24-16 deficit into intermission, St. Georges won going away by holding Cape Henlopen to just four third-quarter points.
“They jumped us in the second half,” said Cape Henlopen head coach Stephen Re. “We played a really strong opening half, but we said they were going to really come at us in the third quarter. Unfortunately, our young team just didn’t handle it the way we would’ve wanted to.”
St. Georges got a game-high 20 points from Kyson Rawls. His four steals were a big part of the 23 turnovers the Seahawks forced for the game. Those takeaways led directly to 21 points and were the difference in the contest.
“Our defense in the second half is what won us that game,” said Griffin. “In the first half I thought we were a little timid, and I didn’t think we played our game. In the second half we just played with passion, which led to turnovers and those led to some easy baskets in transition. When we get those easy buckets off of defense it makes us an awful dangerous team.”