For now, St. Michael the Archangel basketball coach Mark Scanlon will blame inexperience for the Guardians’ up-and-down play.
It’s not an explanation he wants to use for long.
St. Michael had its moments, both good and bad, during a 49-44 loss against Warrensburg on Tuesday in its West Central Conference opener at home. The good included a defense-fueled run of baskets in the second quarter that gave the Guardians their only lead.
The bad included stretches of poor shooting, defensive lapses and failing to put the Tigers on the free-throw line in the closing seconds.
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“We’ve got only two seniors, and we have juniors and sophomores and freshmen out there running around, so you’re going to get that a little bit,” Scanlon said. “They’ve got to grow up quick for us to be competitive.”
St. Michael (3-2) was competitive against Warrensburg, which improved to 5-0 with the victory. The Guardians kept the score low with a mixture of 1-3-1 zone and man-to-man defense.
After trailing by as many as nine points midway through the fourth quarter, St. Michael pulled within 47-44 after Ben Palacios hit a three-pointer with 49 seconds left.
Warrensburg’s Dalton Nappe scored on an easy backdoor cut with 30 seconds left before St. Michael missed a three-pointer on its next possession. Warrensburg got the ball back with 20 seconds left and ran out the clock as the Guardians tried to foul.
“We were just chasing the ball,” Scanlon said. “We really haven’t worked on that yet, and we’ve got young guys out there and that’s just kind of what happens.”
The see-saw play for St. Michael started in the first quarter, when the Guardians went 3 of 12 from the field and fell behind 11-8.
St. Michael increased the defensive pressure in the second quarter, which sparked transition baskets and a 9-0 run that led to a 23-19 lead.
“We’re just not consistent,” Scanlon said. “We show spurts of being pretty decent, but we haven’t maintained that.”
St. Michael couldn’t keep Warrensburg’s Zack Reed from getting the ball under the basket during the third quarter as the Tigers’ 6-foot-3 senior tallied six of his game-high 15 points.
Warrensburg opened the period with a 9-2 run and ended it with a 37-31 lead it would never relinquish.
Pedro Leverette made 4 of 5 shots in the third quarter for St. Michael’s and was the only Guardian in double figures with 10 points.
Junior guard Landon Vahle sank two three-pointers and scored eight points, while freshmen guard Elijah Betts also scored eight. St. Michael put 10 players on the floor and all but one of them scored.
“We’re playing a lot of kids right now, which I really don’t like doing,” Scanlon said. “We’ve been playing nine, sometimes 10 or 11 kids, and it’s hard getting consistency doing that. But at the same time, there’s not much difference between any of them. You want to give them a shot to see what they look like.”