Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski
Craig Croy’s turnaround 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds remaining pulled St. Anthony within three points Saturday night, but it wasn’t enough to upend Charleston.
Caleb Oakley made certain of that in the final minutes, scoring five points down the stretch to help the Trojans post a 57-54 boys basketball victory at Baker Gym.
Charleston improves to 8-2 overall while St. Anthony drops to 7-4.
“I expect us to play hard,” Charleston coach Cody Drone said. “We played hard. It was going to be a battle. It was a dogfight til the end. We were just lucky enough to make a couple more shots.”
The Bulldogs closed out the first quarter with a 17-15 lead thanks to Croy’s seven-point effort. St. Anthony built a five-point lead before seeing it disappear as Charleston went on a 7-0 run to take a 25-23 lead midway through the second quarter on a pair of free throws from William Applegate and back-to-back baskets by Jackson Burgess and Jackson Becker.
“Early on, he (Croy) was hitting some tough shots,” Drone said. “He’s a really good player. We started switching. We switched everything. We took away those looks. We didn’t take away everything obviously. We were able to slow him down just enough to get the win.”
Charleston went on six-point run early in the fourth quarter to extend its lead to 51-43, the largest of the evening, on a jumper from William Applegate.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by St. Anthony’s Max Koenig and Adam Rudibaugh cut the lead to two before Charleston’s Caleb Oakley took over.
Oakley, pushing his way to the basket, scoring five of the last seven Trojans points in the last three minutes to help stave off a relentless Bulldogs team.
“He’s a great driver of the ball,” Drone said. “ He really looked to drive. He really took over. There were times when it was like he was going to put his head down and get there and he was able to get there. He’s got one heck of a motor, offensively and defensively. You can’t say enough about Caleb Oakley. He wants to win so bad.”
Jaksen Braun, who led the Trojans with 17 points, said Oakley kept attacking and finished when they needed him.
“t was a tough battle,” Braun said. “We really focused on shutting down their best player, number 25. We did a little better job in the second half than the first half. We really beat them on the offensive and defensive side of the rebounding. We played hard defense and that was the key to victory.”
St. Anthony coach Cody Rincker said foul trouble hurt his team.
“They came at us,” Rincker said. “We went back and forth early trading baskets and getting at each other. We built a little bit of a lead there and got some momentum going, but then Kyle Stewart got into foul trouble and had to go to the bench. He’s been such a stability for us and you saw that lead dissipate for us when he went to the bench.”
Rincker said a lack of experience played a role in the loss for the Bulldogs.
“We just ran out of timeouts and time, to be honest with you,” he said. “Tonight was one of those nights where our inexperience showed up a little bit. Griffin (Sehy) at the point has to find that next level of how to get past his guy when they’re pressuring him like that and not allowing us to run our offense quite as smoothly as we’d want. Adam (Rudibaugh) and Max (Koenig) have some struggles there because they’re sophomores and the game speed up on them at times.”
CHARLESTON – Smitley 1 1-2 4, Applegate 4 4-4 13, Burgess 5 0-1 11, Beckor 2 0-0 5, Braun 7 2-3 17, Oakley 3 2-5 8. Totals 22 9-15 57. 3-pointers – Applegate 1, Burgess 1, Becker 1, Braun 1.
ST. ANTHONY – Rudibaugh 1 2-2 5, Stewart 3 0-0 7, Levitt 2 1-2 5, Sehy 3 2-2 11, Croy 7 1-2 17, Koenig 2 0-0 5, C. Fearday 2 0-0 4. Totals – 20 6-8 54. 3 pointers – Rudibaugh 1 , Stewart 1, Sehy 3, Croy 2, Koenig 1.