Buoyed an extremely boisterous group of Titans faithful, the Spring Legacy School of Sports Sciences – on the strength of 10 fourth period points from junior point guard PJ Neal – put together a 20-6 fourth-quarter run to overcome a 10-point deficit and pull out a 58-57 win at Houston St. Pius X Monday night.
Down 48-38, six-foot-nine senior power forward Nate Lacewell knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key where Roland McDougal also authored another trey from – on an assist from Neal – to cut the Panthers’ advantage to six, 50-44.
The teams traded buckets twice, bringing the score to 54-48 in favor of St. Pius X, before the Titans went to work.
With 2:02 left on the Herzstein Gym clock, five-foot-ten sophomore Julius Morris hit his only basket of the evening – a three-pointer from the right angle on another assist from Neal – to trim the Panther lead to three, 54-51
After a series of turnovers by both teams, including the Panthers slipping on the floor in transition and Morris stepping on the sideline in the left corner, Neal hit two consecutive baskets – the second coming after a pair of Titan teammates forced a turnover with a half-court trap into his hands – giving Legacy its first lead since early in the third quarter, 55-54, with 40 seconds to play in regulation.
The Titans half-court pressure continued throughout the game’s closing minute netting three free throws – two from Lacewell, who scored 13 on the evening, and another from Brycen Perkins — to extend Legacy’s lead to four, 58-54, with 18.34 seconds remaining.
On its next possession, St. Pius X senior forward Christian Hyde got free deep in the right corner to drain a three-pointer cutting the advantage to one, 58-57.
A quick foul sent Neal, who led Legacy with 15 points, to the free-throw line who then proceeded to miss both shots, giving the Panthers one final chance with 4.66 seconds left on the clock.
The Titans stole the inbound pass in front of their own bench but stepped out of bounds – as St. Pius X’s second final chance would come into play from right in front of the scorer’s table.
Looking to get the ball into senior guard Derrick Brown’s hands, who had scorched Legacy for 19 points, Legacy’s defense on the inbound put it into the hands of another Panther, whose three-point shot from 30 feet out fell just short of the basket.
Legacy’s victory spoiled the home opener for new head coach Walter Brown, Jr., whose team exhibited great ball-handling, disciplined defensive play for most of the contest and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line in the second half.
The first period – a physical one between the two teams – delighted fans with six three pointers – a trio from each team – as St. Pius X led 13-11 as Brown scored seven of those while junior guard Jaylen Wysinger netted the other six.
The Panthers pushed its second quarter lead to as many as eight – 23-15 – as Brown connected on one of his five first half field goals. The last of which closed the first half of play with a forty-footer just inside the midcourt stripe to send St. Pius X to the halftime locker room with a seven-point, 31-24 lead.
Hyde opened with a basket to start the third period, but Legacy went on a 10-0 run to post its first lead of the game, 34-33, with 5:27 to play in the period.
Neal took a pass from Perkins to drain a three, drove the middle of the lane for a basket and then stopped on the left baseline going towards the basket, he dumped it off to David Hill crashing the lane from the right side who laid it up for the one-point lead.
Ethan Santi-Thomas gave St. Pius the lead back immediately with a basket off a Dylan Owens pass and pushed the lead to ten, 46-36, early in the fourth period as part of a 13-2 run of its own. Wysinger contributed six free throws while Brown added the last of his four three-pointers as part of the run before Legacy began its push to grab the win from the Panthers.
LEGACY — PJ Neal 7 0-3 15, Roland McDougal 2 4-5 9, Mason Howell 2 0-0 5, Brycen Perkins 0 1-3 1, Nate Lacewell 4 3-3 13, Gerrard Living 2 0-0 5, Julius Morris 1 0-0 3, Quintin Ivory 0 0-0 0, David Hill 3 1-1 7. TOTALS – 21 9-15 58.
ST PIUS X — Jemikah Chevis 1 0-0 2, Jason Johnson 2 0-0 4, Derrick Brown 6 3-4 19, Jaylen Wysinger 3 7-8 14, Dylan Owens 1 0-0 3, Ethan Sanni-Thomas 2 0-2 4, Christian Hyde 4 2-2 11, Elijan Guel 0 0-0 0. TOTALS – 19 12-16 57.
LEGACY — 11 – 13 – 12 – 22 = 58
ST PIUS X — 13 – 18 – 8 – 18 = 57
TOTAL FOULS — Spring Legacy 18, St. Pius X 17. THREE-POINT FIELD GOALS — Spring Legacy 7 (Lacewell 2, Neal, McDougal, Living, Morris, Howell), St. Pius X 7 (Brown 4, Wysinger, Owens, Hyde). FOULED OUT — St. Pius X (Chevis).