Flashes hang on to beat East Rankin

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The St. Aloysius Flashes ran the full gauntlet of momentum swings Monday, from surging to struggling, then cruising along to uncomfortably close.

In the end, they survived it all by the skin of their teeth, and that was just fine by them.

The Flashes built a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter against East Rankin, frittered most of it away, then hung on in the end to win 53-49.

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“In the fourth quarter we went right back to playing the way we were in the first half and let them catch up at the end,” St. Al coach Walter Hallberg said. “We’re pretty young. Most of my guys are 10th-graders. So we’re learning how to win games, which is hard to do when you haven’t won a lot. The only way to do it is to get put in bad situations sometimes.”

Carson Henderson led St. Al with 16 points, five rebounds and three steals. Korey Sims added 11 points, Walker Lambiotte scored seven, and Carson Gleese had eight points and five assists.

After a back-and-forth first half that ended in a 20-20 tie, the Flashes surged ahead in the third quarter. Henderson scored 12 points in the period as St. Al outscored East Rankin 22-9.

St. Al led by as many as 14 points, 46-32, midway through the fourth quarter.

“I told them at halftime, we have to rebound. If we could rebound against them we could get fast breaks and that’s what we did the whole third quarter,” Hallberg said. “I don’t remember them getting an offensive rebound in the third quarter. We were able to rebound the ball and get it out on the break. We could get up and down the floor way better than they could and that was the difference.”

The Flashes had a hard time closing out the game, though, as East Rankin got hot coming down the stretch. It finished the game on a 17-4 run and got within one possession, at 52-49, on a 3-pointer by Reece Cordell with 11.5 seconds remaining.

Cordell made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and eight in the game, to finish with 24 points.

East Rankin, however, only had one team foul when Cordell made his final 3-pointer and that helped St. Al finally put the game away. The Patriots had to foul four times to put the Flashes on the free throw line, which burned five seconds off the clock.

Sims finally got to the line with six seconds to go. His first free throw took one high bounce off the rim before dropping cleanly through the net to make it 53-49 and seal the victory.

Sims missed his second free throw and East Rankin missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. East Rankin was 2-for-6 from the field in the final minute.

“It shouldn’t be that hard, but we make it difficult on ourselves sometimes. That happened right there at the end,” Hallberg said. “But they made the plays when they had to make them, had stops when we had to get stops. I’m proud of the way they did finish. Last year we probably would have lost this. We’re making strides.”

St. Al, which won three games last season, improved to 7-7 heading into Friday’s MAIS District 4-5A opener at home against Adams County Christian School. It will also play at Tallulah Academy on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The Flashes also won Monday without leading scorer Anthony McCloud, who was out with an illness.

“It’s an improvement. I think we won three games last year, so we’re in a good spot right now,” Hallberg said. “We’re playing pretty good going into district play starting Friday, so I like where we’re at right now.”

East Rankin 68, St. Aloysius 13
Liz Stevens scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, and East Rankin zipped past St. Al in Monday’s girls’ game.

Elizabeth Thrash added 11 points for East Rankin and Addison Brown scored eight. The Patriots led 42-9 at halftime and then opened the third quarter on a 12-0 run.

Taryn Lusby and Megan Theriot scored five points apiece to lead St. Al.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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