Coming into the season, rebounding and 3-point shooting was going to be a major indicator of Saint Patrick’s success this season.
Mason County must have taken notes, because they went to school on the Saints in those two categories.
The Royals bullied the Saints on the glass, St. Patrick was stone cold from the 3-point line and the Royals depth proved too much as they coasted to an 80-31 victory in the season opener for both teams at The Fieldhouse.
“The rebounding was fantastic tonight. Plus 36 on the glass, I don’t know if I’ve ever had that type of margin with one of my teams. We just went and got the ball, very pleased with the hustle and the effort and the rebounding was certainly a huge stat tonight,” Biggs said.
After a slow start to the contest offensively from both teams, the Royals leading scorer from last year, Leevi Dunaway, and added depth from Jeremiah Jones and Xylon Frey helped push Mason County out to a 17-6 edge by the end of the first. The Saints shot 2/14 from the field to begin, including missing all nine 3-pointers attempted.
“Believe it or not, we can shoot the ball. It just didn’t fall tonight. It’s tough to not find those shots early on and it kind of dragged on from there,” Saints coach Aaron Rigdon said.
After Dunaway got the final of his 12 points on the night on a putback in the second quarter, it was Xylon Frey’s turn to bring the energy off the bench, scoring seven second quarter points as the Royals jumped out to a 38-14 edge by the break.
“They gave me an opportunity to come in and do what I got to do, show what I can do for us the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to it,” Frey said. “I was a little bit nervous at first, butterflies got out and it went well from there.”
The shooting woes continued for the Saints as the consecutive number of 3-point attempts misfired increased to 14.
Then it was Jaylen Lofton’s turn to get going in the third. The junior scored all 11 of his points on the night in the third, igniting a 14-0 run out of the half, to push the Royals lead to 52-14 and force a running clock the rest of the way with a little under five minutes left in the frame.
“When Jaylen sets the tone for us, that makes us that much better of a team. We challenged the guys at the half not to let up and I couldn’t be more pleased of how we took the floor in that third quarter,” Biggs said.
Baylen Bauer would connect on a 3-pointer at the 4:17 mark in the quarter, scoring all eight of the Saints points in the frame as they trailed 60-22 at the end of three. The Saints would end the game 2/23 from the 3-point line.
The Royals continued to punish the Saints on the glass as the lead jumped to as big as 51 on a Carson Brammer layup, making it 80-29 before Bauer closed the game out with a layup.
“We just have to be more physical. We have to block out even more than we already do. Our gameplan was to make them beat us from the outside, but most of their points came in the paint off second chance opportunities,” Rigdon said. “I’m highly disappointed with our effort.”
The Royals held a 63-27 edge in rebounding, grabbing 31 offensive rebounds.
Mason County opened their ninth straight season with a victory, dating back to December 2, 2008, when they took their last season opening loss to Highlands, 54-51 in double overtime. They’ll look to improve to 2-0 when they play at Simon Kenton Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a different animal Friday night. It’s a 6A school, out of region, on the road, their home opener, it all adds up. Atmosphere will be different, it will be a great test for us,” Biggs said.
Frey led three Royals in double figure scoring with 15 points and also led with a team-high nine rebounds. Dunaway added 12 and eight rebounds, Lofton 11 and six rebounds. Four others had between seven and eight points, including Jayden Steward, Caleb Boyd, Jeremiah Jones and Carson Brammer.
It’s been reverse fortune for the Saints, who opened the season with a loss for the fifth straight year. They’ll look to get back on track Friday when they host the Catholic Classic at The Shamrock. They’ll open up with St. Joseph Central Ironton (Ohio) on Friday at 7:30 before turning around and taking on Villa Madonna Saturday at 10 a.m.
“We just have to get back to the drawing board. We’ll get back to work tomorrow. We’ll clean some stuff up, keep shooting and move on,” Rigdon said.
The Saints were paced by Bauer’s 10 points, the lone player in double figures. Chandler Black added six points while Jake Swolsky added five points and was the team’s leading rebounder with six boards.