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GLEN CARBON – It was the first game after the uolidays for both Metro-East Lutheran and Father McGivney Catholic, and for the Knights, consistent play made a big difference.

The Knights got 12 points from Darion Brooks and 11 from Jonah Wilson in defeating the Griffins 54-39 Friday night at the McGivney gym. But it was consistenly attacking the basket that helped make the difference in the game.

“We were consistently attacking the basket,” said Knights' coach Anthony Smith. “We're getting away from shooting so many so many three-pointers and being more of a team that attacks the basket more to draw fouls. We've got to get to the free throw line more. So, I thought we did a good job of attacking the basket tonight.”

Cutting down on turnovers was a key to the Knights' win as well. When informed that his team had only eight turnovers, Smith was very pleased.

“We're doing better. It's a good win for us," Smith said. "You know, Father McGivney's a good program. They're going to get better.”

The Griffins were able to execute well in the first quarter, but then early foul trouble and the team's lack of depth didn't bode well for McGivney the rest of the way.

“I felt like we came out ready to play in the game,” said Griffins coach Rich Beyers. “We get the first bucket, execute everything the way we want to, and then, for some reason, we went completely 100 percent away from everything that we wanted to do. Some of it is foul trouble; we get into foul trouble early.

"We're not a real deep team, so we can't reach deep into our pockets and put that next guy up mentality, which Metro has that. They have that luxury of having that next guy on the team. I think that's a great thing that Anthony's got going over there with Metro.”

The first quarter started out well for the Griffins, getting a pair of baskets from Logan Shumate and a pair of free throws from Dan Jones to take an early 6-3 advantage. The Knights then got a basket from Jason Williams and a three-point play from Jonah Ogden to take the lead at 8-6, then went on a 7-3 run to extend its lead.

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The Knights took a 17-11 lead into the second quarter, then got baskets by Lucas Paulson and Ogden sandwiched around a basket by Jones to take a 21-13 edge. The Knights lead went to nine as the period went on, and eventually extended to 14, helped by baskets from Brooks and Williams. The Knights took a 31-19 lead into the locker rooms at halftime.

The Griffins were able to cut the lead to eight early on with a Jones three ball, but Brooks countered with his own three to bring the Metro-East lead back to 39-28. Another three by Cooper Krone made it 44-30 for the Knights, which was the score at the end of the third. Metro continued to pull away in the fourth, with a pair of baskets from Wilson and another from Krone to take a 50-30 lead. Baskets from Shumate and Alex Loeffler and a Jones free throw cut the lead to 50-35, but the Griffins would get no closer, as the Knights took the 54-39 win.

Smith praised his team, who played without two players.

“We're a very good ball club,” Smith said. “So, if you have the two guys that are missing tonight back there, with their athleticism, we're really a good ball club. They made a run at us, and the good thing about this team is that they persevere. . .they got through it, weather it a little bit, make some good decisions. And again, we didn't rely on the three-point shot. The guys who need to shoot it shot them, Krone made them, and from there, we'll continue to get better.”

The Griffins did have the chance to cut the Knights' third quarter lead to six, but the missed opportunity hurt.

“If you think about it, we have an opportunity to come down and cut the game to six, actually at one point, but we turned the ball over,” Beyers said. “And that's just lack of experience, I guess, at the point guard position, lack of reps, I don't know, lack of attention to the details of what it takes to get over the hump in those moments.”

Smith does feel that McGivney is building a very good program, and that they will be heard from in the future.

“They're a good program,” Smith said. “Coach Beyers has played high-level major basketball, he understands the game, he's an Illinois native. They're going to be a good team. They're going to continue to get better and better and better each year.”

And if there's one positive that came out of the game for the Griffins, it's that the players know that they can do better.

“One positive thing is that the guys are still there,” Beyers said. “They're still together, and you know, they know what happened. They know they had a letdown tonight. If you talk to any of them, they'll tell you that it wasn't what they wanted for a result, and they know they didn't execute. So the positive is that they know. They know that it's correctable. . .I would say that would be the one positive is that at least our guys understand that this was unacceptable for us. Other than that, it was a rough night for us.”