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Saints collapse late against New Ulm, remain winless

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Saturday night, the St. James Area boys basketball team had its best opportunity to get in the win column against New Ulm, building a 17-point lead in the second half, only to see the Eagles stun the Saints and knock off the hosts 75-71 in overtime.

St. James held a 10-3 lead in the opening minutes, with Hayden Jones scoring six points early. An Adrian Luna three further built the lead to 15-6. 

Eight points by freshman James Osborne cut the St. James lead down to 18-16. A bucket by Josh Wenninger tied the game at 18 with 5:30 left in the half. The Saints closed out the half on a 13-5 run, taking a 29-23 lead into the break.

Jones, Michael Suarez, and Connor Jones all extended the lead up to 13 early in the second half. Threes from Luna and Suarez put the Saints up 47-30 with 12:00 to play. 

Charlie Osborne got the comeback started by converting an and-one. Isaiah Miller followed with an and-one of his own to trim the lead down to ten.

With four minutes left, the St. James lead still stood at ten but momentum was on the Eagles' side.

Charlie Osborne cut the lead to eight, and a three by James Osborne had the Saints up just five. A pair of Wenninger free throws made it a three-point game. An offensive rebound and putback by freshman Colton Benson had the Eagles within one. On the next possession, Benson once again corralled a miss, was fouled and went 1/2 at the line to tie the game at 58 with 1:15 left. 

"I just told our guys to keep sticking with what we've been doing and what got us here," said head coach Spencer Monson. "Take care of the ball, play defense, and rebound, that's how you close out a game. We turned it over a little too much and hopefully, we can learn from that and we can close one of these out."

James Osborne's free throws with 39.4 seconds gave New Ulm its first lead of the night. A basket by Steven Balbuena tied the game at 60 with 12.4 left. A last-second heave by Charlie Osborne fell short, and the clubs went into overtime.

At the outset of the extra period, Hayden Jones was not to be denied, despite being double and triple-teamed, by the Eagles.  

"He's just a very talented and skilled player," said Monson. "It just goes to show how good he is that he can finish through two or three guys."

Jones scored eight of his game-high 29 in the overtime.

Despite Jones' efforts, Charlie Osborne matched the Saints forward with nine points of his own in the overtime, including a clutch three-pointer with 48 seconds to go to put the Eagles ahead for good, and cap off the comeback.

"We just stopped looking for shots at times so we just turned the ball over too much," said Monson. "We had a lot of turnovers tonight and we need to cut that out if we want to win close games." 

Luna finished with 12 for the Saints. Balbuena finished with nine. Suarez, who battled foul trouble all night, finished with eight. Stresemann provided six off the bench.

The Osborne's combined for 46 points, with 25 coming from Charlie.

"They're just good shooters. That whole team—they all can shoot—and that makes them tough to guard. I thought we did a pretty good job guarding."

With the loss, St. James moves to 0-7, and travels to Immanuel Lutheran on Thursday.