Crusaders start a tough stretch with a conference victory

St. Paul’s began a stretch of five basketball games in eight days with a pivotal MIAA B Conference road victory, as the Crusaders defeated Friends School, 71-66, Friday night.

As they often do, the Crusaders relied on the leadership of their senior big men, as Ziggy Reid scored 29 points and Troy Barthelme provide 19.

The Crusaders (7-5, 2-1 MIAA B) started pounded the ball inside to Reid and Barthelme, and the pair also combined for 17 rebounds. St. Paul’s appeared as if it might pull away for a comfortable victory, as the Crusaders led 57-37 after three quarters.

Coach Kyle Harmon’s Friends squad, however, wouldn’t give up very easily. The Quakers (5-6, 1-2) continued to play hard and knock down long range shots over the final eight minutes of play, cutting the St. Paul’s lead to within in two possessions with 90 seconds to play. Guards Chase Kirkwood (21 points) and Jade Derry (17 points) led the charge. J.P. Vassor, who finished with 15 points, also hit a couple of key three-point shots in the fourth quarter to help cut into the lead.

Sophomore point guard Anthony Smaldore was able to settle St. Paul’s back down to hold on for the 5-point victory. Smaldore was extremely consistent on the offensive end of the floor, orchestrating offensive sets that allowed the Crusader’s to get the ball to their forward’s in key spots. Once the double teams came the sophomore was able to knock down open jump shots and finished with 17 total points and five assists.