Boys’ basketball: Wagner elevates Saints to first victory

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LISBON — With St. Dominic Academy’s center measuring six inches taller than Lisbon’s most vertical player, there was an emphasis Friday night to get the ball to 6-foot-7 Becket Wagner. 

After a rough first half, Wagner didn’t disappoint in the second, pouring in 11 of his 16 points in the final 16 minutes. His free throw with three minutes remaining gave St. Dom’s the lead for good as the Saints defeated Lisbon, 48-44, for their first win of the season. 

“We played great defense,” Wagner said. “It was a great team effort. We rebounded, we shot well, and we got the ball in the right players’ hands.” 

St. Dom’s (1-3) entered the fourth quarter with a 40-35 lead — its largest lead of the contest — but watched it evaporate in less than two minutes.

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Lisbon’s Tyrese Joseph scored the first bucket of the quarter and Johnny Yim netted the next five points, capped by a 3-pointer, to put the Greyhounds in front 42-40 with 6:08 remaining. 

Wagner responded with back-to-back buckets for the Saints. His final field goal drew the Saints even at 44, and his last made free throw gave them a 45-44 lead.

“I had a rough first half, missed a few bunnies, but the second half I came out hot, decided I wouldn’t get denied and really tried to put it to them,” Wagner said.

Mike Bryant’s lone bucket of the fourth quarter gave St. Dom’s a three-point lead. After six straight misses from the charity stripe for the Saints, Bryant knocked one down to make it a two-possession game with under a minute remaining. 

It may have ended the way they wanted, but it was an ugly start for the Saints. The Greyhounds (1-3) came out hot to open the game and built a 10-3 lead halfway through the first quarter. Yim and Jonah Sautter hit 3s during that stretch, and it looked as if Lisbon was poised to make it a rout. 

But the Greyhounds went cold from behind the arc the rest of the way, knocking down just three 3s over the final three quarters. They finished 5-of-31 from long range and 18-of-61 from the field.

“You shoot the ball, you have open looks. They don’t fall, they don’t fall. It’s a whole different story if we knock down shots we hope to knock down,” Lisbon coach Jake Gentle said. “We didn’t do a get job of keeping them off the glass and gave them some easy buckets. (Wagner) inside and Bryant did a really good job scoring points, and they came out on top in the end.”

St. Dom’s mixed up its defensive looks, playing 1-3-1, 1-2-2 and 2-3 over the course of the game. No matter the defense, the Saints were content with the Greyhound throwing up shots from the outside. 

“We knew they had a couple shooters,” Bryant said. “We were guarding the corners, but we kind of noticed right away they weren’t taking advantage of the mid-post very well. We tried to cover the corners the best we could and keep it out of their real shooters’ hands.” 

The Saints took advantage, namely Bryant. The senior guard scored 15 of St. Dom’s first 17 points and had a game-high 18 at the half. He knocked down four 3s in the opening half.

“Lisbon came out so fast I think we were a little bit rattled and we settled down and Mike kind of carried us until the rest of the team got going,” St. Dom’s coach Todd Flaherty said. 

After leaving the game for a brief moment due to an ankle injury, Bryant responded by knocking down his first shot since returning — a 3 to put the Saints ahead, 22-20. He finished with a game-high 25 points. 

“I knew my team wasn’t quite into yet,” Bryant said. “They were still getting up. They were doing good, but I knew I had to hit a couple big shots right away, so that’s what I did to keep us in it.” 

Neither team lead by more than seven. Yim led Lisbon with 12 points. Joseph finished with nine and Sautter had eight, all coming in the first half. 

After committing 19 turnovers in the first half, the Saints hung on to the ball in the second half, turning the ball over just seven times. 

“We took care of the ball in the second half,” Flaherty said. “That’s been an emphasis for us. We made a couple shots, but our defense was pretty good and we hung in there.” 

mkraft@sunjournal.com

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