JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — St. Francis boys basketball improved to 7-0 in Region 6-A play with a 64-49 win over Mount Pisgah Friday night in a matchup of the top two teams in subregion B. The Knights after a strong start from the Patriots in the first quarter but held Mount Pisgah to 16 total points in the second and third quarter to take control of the contest.
The game started in electric fashion for the Knights (13-3, 7-0). Senior Dwon Odom took the opening tipoff, quickly streaked to the net and put down a powerful dunk to give the Knights a statement opening to the contest. However, the remainder of the first eight minutes of play was frustrating for St. Francis.
Mount Pisgah (12-3, 5-2) took the momentum with 3-point play from Jojo Peterson and kept it rolling with several blocks on Knights’ players under the net. With Mount Pisgah players draining shots, the Patriots to jump to a 19-6 lead after seven minutes.
“I knew they were going to give us a great game, and they got off to a great start,” St. Francis head coach Drew Catlett said. “And we went too quick against the zone too early, we were taking quick shots when we needed to work the ball outside.”
Though the first quarter was inauspicious for the Knights, their fortunes quickly turned in the second quarter behind a flurry of scoring a stingy defense.
St. Francis clawed away at Mount Pisgah’s lead throughout the period, and two dunks and an assist from Odom put the Knights ahead just before the half. St. Francis outscored the Patriots 18-6 in the period to take a 27-25 lead into halftime.
The Knights continued to outpace their opponent in the third quarter, doubling the Patriots’ scoring in the period to open their lead to 47-35. Odom led the way for the Knights Friday with 21 points. Seth Hubbard netted 11, Chase Ellis scored nine points with eight rebounds, Kai Simmons added eight points and Jusuan Holt had seven points with seven rebounds.
“I think the key of the game was our defense in the second and third quarter to hold them to six and 10,” Catlett said. “When we get into it defensively, we can be good.”
Catlett also praised his defense for holding Peterson to eight points. The junior standout guard also racked up nine rebounds. Mount Pisgah had four players score eight in the game, including Peterson, Chase Tucker, Garrett Sutherland and Nate Gordon.
The Knights continued to roll in the fourth quarter, eventually opening a 19-point lead before getting some of their bench players minutes on the court.
The Knights remained atop the Region 6-A subregion B standings with the win ahead of Walker and the Patriots. Both teams will continue a streak of region games to close out the regular season ahead of the Region 6-A tournament next month.
As the defending region and state champions, Catlett knows the Knights will have a target on their backs in their remaining nine contest.
“We’re going to get everyone’s best shot, we always do,” he said. “The guys laugh at me, but I tell them, tonight is the most important game of the year. Tomorrow, that’s the most important game of the year. We can’t look ahead. We have to stick to the program’s four tenants — having a great attitude, giving great effort each day, being coachable and be a great teammate. We slip in some of those areas time to time because we have some young kids, but if we do those things every day, we are going to get better.”