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Boys basketball: St. Helens tops South Albany for first win

St. Helens pulls away to win 58-50


While first-year head coach Scott Archer would probably bring up the fact that it's just one game of 24, the Lions are likely to have some extra spring during practice next week after notching their first win of the season.

St. Helens had dropped the first two contests, but managed to pull away late and knock off the South Albany Rebels 58-50, sending the Rebels to a 1-3 start and improving to 1-2 on the season.

It was a back-and-fourth contest until the final seconds. St. Helens held a brief lead in the first quarter before South Albany snatched it back to take a 14-13 edge after a quarter, and played a nearly even second period to finish the first half locked in a 24-24 tie.

The teams entered the fourth quarter with South Albany ahead 33-32, but didn't manage to find any separation until late in the final period. South Albany had nailed two three pointers in a row, eventually taking a 42-37 lead.

That's when St. Helens geared up and made a run which might well define the early part of their season. With just over five minutes to play, point guard Quintin Galvin ran the floor and scored but missed the resulting free throw. St. Helens got a big defensive stop and pushed back up the court to Kyle Ruege, who drained a three from the corner to tie the game at 42.

They'd made their little rally, and last season it might have been the last gas. This time, though, there was a little extra firepower. As the Lions came down the floor and battled for an offensive board, senior guard Justin Helgerson took an elbow to the chin from 6-foot-3, 195 lb. post Tyler Kelsch. Helgerson bumped back on his way past, and picked up a technical for his efforts. South Albany hit one of two freebees, and on the resulting possession, hit a three-pointer to all but erase the Lions' efforts.

Now what? Time for St. Helens to lock down on defense and put on a show — a show to the tune of a 9-0, lead-grabbing, game-winning run. The Lions finished the contest on a 12-4 streak, knocking down critical free-throws when it mattered and snuffing out South Albany's attempts at a rally.

The victory, though it came against a 1-3 South Albany team which has struggled to score with their inside-out offense this season, is a major milestone for St. Helens. The Lions played solid in a zone defense, and continued their fluid trend on offense — and improvement finally brought about a result on the scoreboard, which is big for the psyche of a team adapting to a new coach and a new system.

The Lions will come home for their next contest, hosting fellow NW Oregon Conference opponent Sandy (1-3) on Dec. 16 at 7:15 p.m. The Pioneers have lost their last three games in a row, including a season-low 22-point effort against Aloha on Saturday afternoon.

SUMMARY

St. Helens 58, South Albany 50

STHE 13 11 7 27 — 58

SOUT 14 10 8 18 50

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