St. Francis boys 84, Pinecrest 55
St. Francis 21 19 20 24_84
Pinecrest 15 15 14 11_55
St. Francis: Beasley 30, Jordan-Simmons 24, Gates 15.
Pinecrest: Flanigan 12, Palmer 11, Rice 8.
2-pt FG—St. Francis: 21-39. Pinecrest: 13-28.
3-pt FG—St. Francis: 7-23. Pinecrest: 7-29.
FTM/A—St. Francis: 21-25. Pinecrest: 8-14.
Rebounds—St. Francis: 48. Pinecrest: 27.
Turnovers—St. Francis: 12. Pinecrest: 15.
Sean Flanigan drilled a running, half-court buzzer-beater to draw the Pinecrest boys within 10 of defending Class A-Private champion St. Francis at halftime, and the sophomore guard kept sprinting, all the way to the Paladins’ locker room.
St. Francis coach Drew Catlett lingered on the edge of the bench, his eyes trailing as Pinecrest’s entire team chased after Flanigan. Jay Lynch’s team had pestered the Knights and hung around, despite being out-shot and out-rebounded.
The Paladins’ spark went out, though, when Flanigan had to be helped off the floor with what looked to be a serious left knee injury midway through the third quarter. St. Francis took full advantage and pulled away in the final 12 minutes for an 84-55 win in front of a capacity crowd at Pinecrest on Friday night.
“When Sean got hurt, I think that hurt morale a little bit,” Lynch said. “It was still a 12-point game at that point when he went down. Sean’s a guy who’s got to play 28 minutes for us. When you pull him out, it’s tough.”
Flanigan led Pinecrest (3-4 overall, 2-2 Region 6-A, Div. B) with 12 points. Nick Palmer had 11 and Zayne Rice added eight points for the Paladins.
Florida State signee Malik Beasley scored a game-high 30 points and added 12 rebounds for St. Francis (7-1, 3-0). Kobi Jordan-Simmons scored 24 and Xavier signee Kaiser Gates tallied 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The game plan for Pinecrest: force St. Francis to shoot threes, and to not let the Knights get offensive rebounds score on dunks and layups. Part one was successful—St. Francis made seven of 24 attempts from deep. Part two: not as successful. St. Francis pulled down 48 rebounds, including 27 in the second half, as Gates and Beasley utilized their size advantage inside.
“We wanted to make it as hard as possible for them,” Lynch said. “If they were going to beat us, they were going to beat us from deep. Well, they didn’t beat us from outside, but we couldn’t rebound.”
Lynch’s team was confident all week, he said, that they could beat St. Francis. They looked the part early. Flanigan’s three late in the first quarter cut the Knights’ lead to one at 16-15, sparking Pinecrest’s student section in to a frenzy. Beasley calmly knocked down a three at the other end, and Simmons hit two free throws as St. Francis led by six after one quarter.
Beasley took over in the second quarter; he and Jordan-Simmons combined for 31 of the Knights’ 40 first-half points. St. Francis held the ball for one last shot before halftime, but a turnover on the wing gave Flanigan his desperation heave from in front of the scorer’s table.
“There was definitely excitement in the locker room at half but they were also disappointed—we lost the first quarter by six, the second quarter by four,” Lynch said. “We knew we could play with them but we needed to make up ground.”
St. Francis led 49-37 when Flanigan went down with 4:36 to play in the third quarter. Flanigan had to be carried off—Lynch said the sophomore was mad at him for the assistance—and from there, Pinecrest was outscored 35-18.
St. Francis girls 78, Pinecrest 33
Some basketball players hit shots from all over the floor in pre-game warmups, then go cold once defenders are thrown in to the mix, but don’t tell that to St. Francis guard Abby Grant.
Grant stood several feet outside the three-point line prior to tipoff and knocked down shot after shot, and that carried over—the Lady Knights’ senior guard drilled five three-pointers in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points (7-10 3-pt FG) to lead St. Francis to a 78-33 win at Pinecrest on Friday.
Margaret Metz led Pinecrest (4-4 overall, 2-2 Region 6-A, Div. B) with 11 and Maggie Herd added 10 for the Lady Paladins.
St. Francis (8-0, 3-0) led by 15 after one quarter and pulled away before halftime. The Lady Knights outscored Pinecrest, 30-7, in the second quarter, as the Lady Paladins experimented with a 1-3-1 defense.
“We’re still young—I started two freshmen and a sophomore tonight—and still learning to believe in ourselves,” Pinecrest coach Ken Lacy said. “I was really proud of our effort in the second half [Pinecrest was outscored 23-16 in the final 16 minutes]. We raised our level of intensity.”
St. Francis, a state semifinalist in Class A-Private last season, placed five players in double-figures: Grant, Kasi Kushkituah (14 points), Maya Dodson (12), and Nichel Tampa (10).