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The St. Paul girls basketball team had a tough draw last weekend at their home tournament, facing a pair of teams that entered the games undefeated on the season. The Bucks dropped each game — a 49-36 loss on Friday to Kennedy and a 36-29 defeat to Condon/Wheeler Saturday — but head coach Michael Murphy saw enough good things in the latter game to look forward to how the team fares against league competition in the coming month.

“Against Condon I was really happy with the effort that they put forth,” said Murphy. “I think that’s probably as close to a full game that we’ve played well this year.”

The Knights are currently undefeated through eight games and are the No. 3 1A team in the state, but no team has played them tougher than the Bucks thus far. In two games this season, St. Paul has held Condon/Wheeler to 37 and 36 points, respectively. In their other six games, the Knights have averaged 56 points.

“We ended up on the short side of it, but the effort was there,” he continued. “Defensively I thought we did really well.”

The Bucks entered the first game of the tournament having won back-to-back games against league foes C.S. Lewis and Perrydale, but the Trojans represented a tougher test. Kennedy had won their first eight games of the year behind an up-tempo defense that put constant pressure on the ball, and St. Paul had no solution in the first half.

“I didn’t think we played real well against Kennedy,” said Murphy. “We didn’t handle their pressure at all, which was a little surprising because that’s something we’ve seen quite a few times this early.”

The Bucks got behind by double-digits early and couldn’t do much to counter the Trojans’ full-court press in the first two quarters. The team came out with renewed energy in the second half, but by that time it was too late.

“The second half was better than the first half,” said Murphy. “The kids adjusted at halftime, but we got ourselves in a little bit of a hole and we weren’t able to get out of it.”

St. Paul (3-4, 2-0 Casco) has one final non-conference game Friday against City Christian before the team dives into a league-heavy schedule for the month of January and beyond

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