St. Anne’s-Belfield got 14 points each from Nick Reese, Mesiah Woods and Malachi Poindexter and overcame a slow start to hold Fork Union Military Academy scoreless for eight-and-a-half minutes en route to a 71-58 win in the Prep League semifinals on Tuesday night.
The Saints reeled off a 20-0 run bridging the halves after falling behind 10-5 early thanks to a pair of threes from FUMA’s James Pua’ali-Pelham in the opening minutes.
STAB coach Damin Altizer called timeout and inserted Poindexter, who buried one of STAB’s four threes in the quarter. His shot was one of two consecutive threes, the other by Nick Reese, which allowed the Saints to take an 18-10 lead into the break.
“Our message coming in was that this was a huge game for us,” Altizer said. “It’s a one-game series from here to the end of the year. The energy wasn’t there, and as soon as we went to the bench it came.”
The stoppage between quarters did little to curb STAB’s momentum, as the Blue Devils remained cold from the field after Pua’ali-Pelham was whistled for his second foul. Poindexter drilled another triple with 4:31 to play in the half and by the time Antonio Pua’ali-Pelham ended FUMA’s drought with a baby hook from the left block at the 4:01 mark of the second, his team trailed by 13. Poindexter had 11 and Reese nine in the half as STAB took a 35-20 lead into the break.
“We were focused on penetrating the lane,” Poindexter said. “We can always shoot from three, but we were trying to sharpen up on other skills.”
The Saints’ suffocating defense continued in the second half, forcing turnovers on four of FUMA’s first five possessions to push the lead to as high as 50-23 with just over three minutes to go in the third.
Mesiah Woods drilled another trey to help the Saints get it to 56-31 after three, and the lead got as large as 28 before FUMA heated up to close the gap at the end.
“We tell them every night, we’re so much better when we have multiple players in double figures,” Altizer said. “When you have multiple guys scoring the defense can’t focus on just one guy.”
Larry Elder and James Pua’ali-Pelham led FUMA with 16 points apiece.
The Saints hit 8-for-22 from three while holding the Blue Devils to just 4-for-21. They forced 13 FUMA turnovers.