Saratoga Central Catholic Tops Hudson in Holiday Consolation
Officially, the New Year starts at midnight. Monday, the Saratoga Central Catholic High School boys’ basketball team got in an early celebration.
Turning in a near wire-to-wire performance, the Saints went on to a 54-43 win over Hudson in the consolation game of the 37th annual Holiday Tournament.
"I was proud of the effort," Saratoga Catholic coach Ken Mantia said. "We played well defensively and offensively right from the start."
The victory for the Saints (4-5) offset a difficult loss to Voorheesville in Friday's tournament opener.
"This group is kind of funny," Mantia said. "When you walk in the gym for practice after a loss, you don't know if we're undefeated or haven't won a game yet. They play just as hard every practice.
"As long as they care about a loss, that's a good thing. These guys don't want to lose, but they also have perspective in that we're trying to improve."
Keegan Murphy goes over the top for points
Opening the scoring with a short Keegan Murphy jumper, Saratoga Catholic saw Hudson (4-4) take its only lead of the game at 7-6 with a Javel Grant bucket. When Murphy countered with a bucket at the other end, the Saints would not trail the rest of the way.
Hudson pulled even at 13-13 starting the second quarter, but a Cam Coons bucket put the Saints ahead to stay. Saratoga Catholic used an 18-9 second quarter to build a 31-20 cushion at intermission.
The Bluehawks tried to mount a rally in the third quarter, cutting their deficit to single digits (39-31) after an Everton Higgins layup at the 3:38 mark. But a Jesse Winters three-point bucket ended the threat and the Saints were not threatened the rest of the way.
"We played hard in the second half, but the intensity wasn't quite there in the first half," Hudson coach Shawn Briscoe said. "The effort was there for part of the game. We just have to put it together for 32 minutes."
Murphy finished with a game-high 18 points to pace the Saints, followed by Brian Hall with 10. Mike Naughton collected a game-high nine rebounds for Saratoga Catholic, which finished with a slim 39-36 margin on the boards.
Grant finished with 14 points to lead Hudson. Higgons grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
"We played well - it was a good start to the second half of our season," Murphy said. "Our guards worked hard and did a good job of ball handling and getting us into our offense."
Murphy was named the game's MVP and Naughton, along with Hudson's Scott were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Saints were without Ryan Czarnecki. Mantia said Czarnecki injured a shoulder at the end of Sunday practice and went to the hospital for x-rays after Monday’s game.
"Hopefully that turns out okay, but other kids stepped up," Mantia said. "I thought Luke Spicer (six points) played well stepping into a starting role and Jesse Winters (six points, eight rebounds) played well off the bench - that's very encouraging."
Jake VanPatten drives on goal
Benefiting from good ball movement offensively, the Saints finished the game shooting 47 percent from the floor, hitting 22 of 47 attempts. Hudson, meanwhile, connected on just 16 of its 47 tries for a cool 34 percent.
"I think we've come a long way as far as searching for the best shot - looking for the high percentage shot - and we feed off that," Mantia said. "When we're getting quality shots, it improves our overall defense because there aren't as many fast breaks heading the other way."
"We like to play aggressive and fast," Briscoe said. "But we just weren't knocking down the shots when we needed to and couldn't make a comeback in the second half."
Finishing 2012 with a win, the Saints will try to start 2013 the same way with a road contest Friday against Mayfield.
Keegn Murphy receives his MVP trophy
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