The St. Patrick boys’ basketball team has started slow this year.

It’s taken a while to get going in games, and it’s shown early with the Saints’ 1-6 record heading into Hoops for Hope night at The Shamrock on Monday when they met with 39th District opponent Augusta.

St. Patrick got off to another slow start, but were able to overcome an early 11-0 deficit to come away with a 63-53 win – the Saints first over a district opponent since a 54-50 win against Bracken County on Jan. 30, 2014, and the first against Augusta since an 82-77 win on Dec. 10, 2011.

“We have a tendency to come out a little slow, but the thing I’ve told them from day one since I took the job is that we fight, we fight we fight until the end. I don’t care if we’re down 30 or three, we keep fighting,” said St. Patrick coach Aaron Rigdon. “They’ve done that pretty much all year, and they did it tonight. We got hit in the mouth, but we kept banging with them.”

The Panthers started the game with the hot hand of Preston Philpot, who knocked down a 3-pointer to get his team going and added another to make it 8-0, before Rigdon called a timeout.

Augusta added three more points before St. Patrick finally got on the board with a 3-pointer from Brevin Jones with 3:17 to go in the quarter, before eventually closing out the frame ahead, 15-8.

“I think they were just ready to go. Coming into this game it was more than just a basketball game. I talked to the kids about the men and women that are fighting for their lives with the cancer battle, and I just tried to instill that in their minds. I just wanted 32 minutes of fight from them. These other men and women, these kids battling this terrible disease, they’re fighting day in and day out,” said Augusta coach Brian Kirk.

The Saints started heating up in the second quarter while Philpot stayed hot. Sam Appelman opened the quarter with a layup, before Jones hit a jumper to make it 17-10.

Jones followed it with a 3-pointer, which was answered by Philpot with his third of the game. Jones knocked down another triple at the other end and once again Philpot answered with his fourth of the contest, making it 23-16 before Augusta coach Brian Kirk called a timeout.

The Saints were also able to take advantage of five Augusta turnovers in the quarter while limiting their own to come back to hold a 31-28 advantage at the half.

“Any time you turn the ball over it’s tough on your team. It’s a momentum killer and unfortunately they hit shots tonight,” said Kirk. “The Jones kid, he kind of took over there in the second quarter and really got them rolling and then their teammates just kind of fed off of him.”

Jones knocked down his fourth 3-pointer to start the second half and extend the Saints’ lead and added another in the quarter, but Philpot kept the Panthers close by hitting his fifth, sixth and seventh shots from beyond the arc.

“Big time players step up, and Preston – he’s capable of shooting shots like that. Unfortunately, we’d come down and hit one and they’d hit one. We’ve got to learn to get defensive stops, but Preston’s teammates did a tremendous job of finding ways to get him the basketball. We kind of attacked the gaps there and kicked it out to him and he was ready to shoot it. As a shooter, once you see one go through the net, the next one’s going in no matter what when it leaves my hand – that’s the mindset,” said Kirk. “It’s a good thing he was hitting tonight. If not, it could have been a big difference.”

Trailing, 49-44, entering the final eight minutes, Augusta was able to chip away before eventually tying the game, 53-53, on a layup from Cody Ripato with 4:09 remaining.

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Baylen Bauer broke the tie when he crossed over Thomas Mains, drove to the basket and finished with his right hand under Appelman. Bauer made it 57-53 when he drove to the basket for another tough finish on the Saints’ next possession.

“I trust him 100 percent. That’s what I’ve been telling him. He’s struggled from the 3-piont line. We know he’s a specialist out there, but he’s struggled, so he’s got to learn to get to the basket and that’ll open it up for him outside,” said Rigdon. “I trust all the kids, man. I trust Pat and I trust Brevin and I trust them all to do what they need to do.”

From there, the Saints were able to hold on with a bucket from Chandler Black and four free throws from Jake Swolsky, to pick up their first win since Dec. 2 at the St. Patrick Catholic Classic when they beat Villa Madonna, 51-48, in overtime.

Jones led St. Patrick with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Swolsky added 14 points, Bauer had 11 and Black had 10. The Saints move to 2-6 and will hope to carry momentum into the Rose Hill All Private School Invitational on Thursday.

Philpot finished with 24 points to lead Augusta. The Panthers fall to 4-5 with the loss and will travel to Rowan County on Friday for the Kentucky Bank Challenge, where they will face Rockcastle County at 7:30 p.m.

St. Patrick and Augusta will meet again in the first round of the 10th Region All “A” Classic on Jan. 6.


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