AUBURN – It’s OK to soak in the playoff atmosphere of a regional prelim, but the St. Dom’s Saints were standing around on defense and taking in a little too much atmosphere for coach Ryan Deschenes liking.

So the coach reminded his team at halftime of Thursday night’s prelim against Telstar that it had to do a little less watching and a little more defending.

The sixth-seeded Saints heeded their coach and shut out No. 11 Telstar for the first six minutes of the second half and pulled away, 62-46, at Callahan Gymnasium.

St. Dom’s (14-5) returns to the Augusta Civic Center for the first time since 2004, and will face No. 3 Winthrop in the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. Monday.

Telstar’s scoreless streak actually started late in the first half, and St. Dom’s went a 23-0 run before it was over. A Max Meader free throw tied the game for Telstar at 22 with 1:33 left in the half. The Rebels didn’t score again until Andy Whitney hit a pair of free throws with 1:53 to go in the third quarter.

“At the half, we were saying that we needed to pick up defensively,” said St. Dom’s forward Billy Colasante. “Our scouting report was right, but we were just too busy ball-watching in the first half.”

“We knew their offense was a lot of motion, cutters cutting hard to the basket, and the got six or eight points off that in the first half,” Deschenes said. “We really needed to do a better job sagging into the bucket and cut that off. Our help-side was better and our defense was better in the second half.”

Telstar (8-11) trailed 11-4 early but got back into the game when Louis Thornton (10 points) and James Kimball each drilled 3-pointers early in the second quarter. But Ryan Kimball’s short jumper with 2:13 to go in the half ended up being the last field goal the Rebels would score for 8:44.

“We didn’t run anything offensively,” Telstar coach Mark Thurlow said. “We refused to run anything. That’s why I used two time outs. I couldn’t understand it. We had nothing structured at all.”

The Saints came out firing 3-pointers against Telstar’s 2-3 zone and finally began to find the range in the third. Colasante and Dave Roux converted on four of five from behind the arc in the span of about four minutes as they opened up a 48-24 lead.

“We know we have a good zone offense. We’ve seen a lot of zone this year,” Deschenes said. “We just had to work the ball, work the ball, find the open shot. We did that in the third quarter, and we ran a little bit.”

Matt Zinchuk had 10 points and 10 rebounds while Meader added seven points and nine boards for the Rebels. Joe Bonneau finished with 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Saints, while Colasante added 14 points and four steals and Roux chipped in with 12 points.

“It’s been our goal all season to get to Augusta,” Colasante said. “We’re like the fourth team ever in St. Dom’s history to make it, so it’s a great accomplishment for us and the program.”


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