1A boys hoops — Bucks snap a three-game losing skid, will play Friday

PERRYDALE — Entering the week, St. Paul needed to knock off either Jewell at home or Perrydale on the road in order to have any hope of making the Casco League district playoffs.

The Blue Jays put the Bucks in a bind right off the bat, storming to a 57-37 win Jan. 21.

St. Paul also had a non-league clash scheduled versus Damascus Christian Jan. 23, making its chances look a little dimmer heading to Perrydale Friday night.

But the Bucks responded to the challenge, first by downing the Eagles 48-41, then by edging the Pirates 47-43, to keep their postseason aspirations alive.

“The kids showed quite a bit of resiliency,” head coach Vince Drago said. “We got beat soundly, then they came back Thursday and Friday and played awfully well.”

St. Paul shot the ball poorly against Jewell, making 14 of its 57 attempts, and fell behind 36-14 at halftime.

Things were a lot rosier against Damascus Christian, as the Bucks went a respectable 19-for-43 from the floor and this time were the ones taking the early lead, outscoring the visitors 18-4 through one quarter.

Things were pretty even the rest of the way, as both teams struggled mightily in the third quarter, combining to score just 10 points. Tyler Smith led St. Paul with 14 points, Cody Southerland had 11 and Ryan Soumokil finished with nine.

“We just defended really well,” Drago said. “We were active. Why one day and not the next? I can’t explain that. Damascus is a reasonable basketball team. They’re aggressive and they play hard. They’ve had some success in the Valley 10, so we thought that was a pretty good win for us.”

With their backs against the wall, the Bucks played a scrappy game at Perrydale, pulling ahead by as many as 10 in the third quarter, but the Pirates rallied to take a two-point lead late in the fourth.

Cody Southerland came up with the game-tying basket, then St. Paul sank four of six free throw attempts — one by Southerland, one by Smith and two by Jackson Connor — the rest of the way to steal the win.

The Bucks are now just one game adrift of the fifth-place Pirates in the race for the final playoff spot and will take on league-leading Country Christian at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We showed a little bit of character at the end,” Drago said. “It became an awfully close ball game for a while there. That was an important ball game. We’re on the outside looking in, but at least we’re knocking on the door.”

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