St. Anne’s Belfield boys basketball knew they were facing a tall task in the VISAA D1 state quarterfinals Wednesday night against Paul VI.
A storied program that happens to be the defending state champions. A team forged by fire in the legendary Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. A squad that was coming off a WCAC tournament loss.
But STAB refused to go quietly against the Panthers.
“We went on the road and played one of the best programs in the country starting an 8th grader and a freshman and the guys fought their way to a single digit third quarter deficit,” said STAB coach Damin Altizer.
Paul VI prevailed, winning 69-49 to end the Saints season and advance to the state final four.
“It may not have ended the way we wanted, but the fight, resiliency, and passion the guys showed is a testament to everything this team has been about all year,” Altizer said.
That fight was evident on the defensive end as the Saints managed to hold WCAC player of the year Trevor Keels, the No. 1 ranked prospect in Virginia in the Class of 2021 who boasts a UVa offer as a sophomore, to just 13 points. They also held WCAC first team pick Dug McDaniel, just a freshman, to just 13 points.
STAB trailed by just four at the half and trailed by single digits in the third before Paul VI pulled away.
STAB senior Mesiah Woods led the Saints with 16 points and also grabbed three boards and dished out a pair of assists. Nick Reese had 13 points and five boards.
Freshman Justin Taylor managed eight points while Dalton Taylor had five assists. Carter Lang was solid with five points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The loss ends Altizer’s first year at the helm with a 17-11 record and caps the high school careers of Woods and Dalton Taylor as well as Isaac Francis, Manny Taye and Wayt Timberlake.