It’s not often a high school squad can surrender 77 points and elicit praise from its coach for its defensive performance. But that was the case as St. Anne’s-Belfield avenged last season’s upset loss at cross-county foe Tandem Friends School thanks to aggressive defense and quick shot-making over the second and third quarters, which tilted heavily in the Saints’ favor by a 63-35 margin.
“We told them if we took care of things on the defensive end, offense would take care of itself, and we did much better defensively in the third,” said St. Anne’s coach Damin Altizer, as STAB rolled to a 99-77 home victory on Friday night.
After the Badgers matched the Saints for a 20-20 tie after the first quarter, senior guard Malchi Poindexter ignited the STAB offense in the second, pouring in 10 of his 17 first-half points. The Saints also got some help from young guns off the bench, with eighth grader Chance Mallory and freshman Henry Ford each knocking down triples.
“Chance always shoots it well in practice, and tonight was Henry’s first game back after a wrist injury, and we told him he’d be in there,” said Altizer. “When you’re in there, we trust everybody to make plays and shoot it. They came in confident.”
The Saints used an 18-7 run in the middle of the period to build a 51-38 halftime lead. Freshman Carter Lang was huge in the post, pulling down double-digit rebounds in the first half alone; he finished with 14 boards and came up one bucket shy (8 points) of a double-double.
STAB kept up the aggressive play after the break. Although the defense drew enough whistles to put Tandem in the bonus less than five minutes into the third, sophomore Justin Taylor more than made up for it by keying the offense with 19 points in the quarter, including three treys and a pair of transition dunks.
“We kind of started out slow, but the big thing was to get revenge for last year since we lost to them in the first game,” said Taylor. “We just shared the ball a lot more [after halftime] and found each other to make the right play. I think Malachi ended up with 12 assists, so that’s huge for us to move the ball and get great shots over good shots.”
Trailing 83-55, Tandem coach Sam Dale implored his team to keep battling in the fourth quarter, especially on the glass. As STAB’s bench got in on the action down the stretch, the Badgers limited second-chance looks and held the Saints below the century mark. Seniors Dean Lockley and Kobi Copeland finished up strong offensive showings with 30 and 27 points, respectively, for Tandem.
Taylor led all scorers with 31 points on the night. Poindexter added 19 and Mallory joined them in double figures with 12. STAB continues Tip-off Classic play at 5pm Saturday when it faces Virginia Academy.