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St. Clair Holds Off Union in District Opener

March 11, 2014
St Clair Athletics




In a first-round game which went down to the wire, the St. Clair Bulldogs held off the Union Wildcats Tuesday at Borgia, 53-48.

St. Clair (7-19), the fourth seed, now gets a semifinals shot against top-seeded Pacific Friday at 6 p.m.

“Pacific is one of the best defensive teams I have seen,” St. Clair Head Coach Casey Korn said. “They really take pride on getting stops. We have to be aggressive and attack because if we let them dictate the shots we get we will be in for a tough night offensively.”

Union ended its season at 9-16.

“It was definitely a building year,” Union Head Coach Chris Simmons said. “We improved from day one to the last day of the year. We started out 2-9 and really struggled early on, but after Christmas, we were in every game with a chance. We finished 9-16 and played in a lot of games late that we had our chances to win the game. We were very young this year so we will build and get better this summer.”


Scoring seven points per quarter over the final three quarters, St. Clair senior Reno Jones led everyone with 21 points.

“Reno Jones was the difference in the game,” Simmons said. “In the third quarter, he was nails. He scored in every way possible and was highly efficient.”

Junior Damon Arnold was next with 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Senior Ben Feddersen, recently returned from missing most of the season with a knee injury, contributed seven points with four of those coming at the start of the contest.

Sophomore Kyler Waldo scored four points.

Seniors Darrell Martin and Harley Love ended with three points apiece. Sophomore Keola Bursey added two points and freshman Gavin Marler chipped in with one point.

Union was led by its lone senior Brian Borgmann, who scored 13 points before being lost to fouls with 29.6 seconds to play.

“We will miss Borg a ton next year, but we will all improve and be ready to make a year next year,” Simmons said. “Borg is a high character kid that does it in the classroom, on the court, and in the community. He is a topnotch young man. Wherever he goes, he will succeed and make a positive difference.”

Junior Nick Ziegler and freshman Ethan Hughes scored 12 points apiece. Hughes joined Borgmann as the only other Union player to score in all four quarters.

Junior Kevin Curran scored six points.

Sophomore Dillon Breeden scored three points and junior Tanner Bunch added two points.


It was a game of runs and comebacks for both teams. In the end, it came down to St. Clair sealing it from the free-throw line.

“We have played in more close games this year than I have in my previous four years of coaching,” Korn said. “We had a shaky four possessions in a row but we were able to get a stop and hang on. We were able to make free throws down the stretch.”

Feddersen scored the first two baskets for St. Clair while the Bulldogs absorbed a charge call against Union on its first possession. Overall, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Simmons called a timeout to regroup with 3:57 left in the opening quarter.

“When we got down 7-0, I was still pretty calm because they had hit some shots that were not their go-to shots,” Simmons said. “They made some tough shots and we missed out on some early opportunities, so I just told them to stay patient and calm. We made a slight tweak to our offense which we then ran the rest of the evening with some success. We also brought in Ethan which gave us another shooter and high post possibility and he just gave us more opportunities.”

Hughes paid immediate dividends as he knocked down a three to put the Wildcats onto the scoreboard. That opened up an 11-point run, which saw Union go from being down 7-0 to up 11-7.

Arnold broke the run with a three, but Hughes answered to make it 14-10 at the end of one quarter.

Union led for much of the second quarter, but St. Clair rallied from a nine-point deficit (21-12) to tie it on a three by Arnold.

“In the second quarter we started to go away from what we did early in the game,” Korn said. “We came out and guarded people in spots where they didn’t need to be guarded which exposed our defense to the likes of both Ziegler and Borgmann.”

Union led 27-23 with eight seconds to play in the quarter, but nearly trailed at the intermission. With the score 27-25, St. Clair received a break at the half.

After getting the ball, Martin tried a desperation shot at the end of the half. The ball hit the ceiling, but Union was called for a foul and Martin was awarded three free throws. He hit one and Union held a 27-26 advantage going to the locker room.

In the third quarter, St. Clair went on a six-point run to close out the period, taking a 37-32 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

During that run Feddersen hit two free throws and Jones and Martin scored baskets.

“We didn’t adjust too much at half time,” said Korn. “We just emphasized that we must hang our hats on the defensive end. We know we have people who can make shots but we have to be able to get stops when needed.”

St. Clair opened the lead to 10 points with 2:21 to play, 48-38, but Union wasn’t done.

Ziegler hit a three-point shot to start an eight-point run which cut the deficit to 48-46 with 1:21 to play.

“I was proud of our kids because they continued to fight even when it looked impossible,” Simmons said. “We came out of a timeout and really got after it. The kids kept fighting and we gave ourselves a chance late. Most teams would just fold, but we kept fighting and almost pulled it out.  We had two opportunities to tie late in the game.”

Union had to foul, but having only eight players on the roster and three of them in heavy foul trouble made it difficult to try and put the Bulldogs on the free-throw line. Still, the Bulldogs went 4-5 from the stripe in the final 30 seconds to seal the win, 53-48.

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