VANDALIA — St. Anthony’s first-ever appearance in the Vandalia Holiday Tournament was shaping up to be a successful one on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs took the lead against the host Vandals early on in the first quarter and led by as much as 10 in the first half, as Vandalia had little luck slowing down the inside-outside combo of John Goeckner and Jacob Schuette.
Still, St. Anthony could never quite come up with that knockout blow, thanks in large part to Vandals point guard Tim Ritchey, who kept his team afloat by ending the first half with a pair of big free throws before closing the third quarter with a buzzer-beating layup.
The latter basket came off of one of Ritchey’s five steals and foreshadowed a nightmarish fourth quarter for the Bulldogs (2-7), who saw a nine-point third quarter lead evaporate in a 70-65 loss to the Vandals.
A Schuette jumper with just under a minute to go in the third quarter put St. Anthony up nine points, but the Vandals outscored the Bulldogs by 14 points the rest of the way, including a 23-13 advantage in the final quarter.
Turnovers proved a huge factor in St. Anthony’s demise, as the Bulldogs coughed the ball up five times in the first three minutes of the fourth, fueling a 13-4 run that put the Vandals up for good. The Bulldogs also rushed shots throughout the second half, and the little things added up to big dissapointment in St. Anthony’s debut in the 41st annual event.
“We talked about doing the things you’re supposed to be doing on every possession,” Bulldogs coach Mark Tovey said. “It gives you a chance to be successful, but if you don’t, you’re never going to have a chance. Very seldom do you luck out and have something good happen when you’re not doing the right things.”
Back-to-back Vandalia baskets trimmed St. Anthony’s lead to just five heading into the final frame, and the Vandals completed their comeback when Leyton Godoyo hit pair of free throws after Schuette was called for a charge, tying the game at 53 with about 6 1⁄2 minutes remaining.
The lead see-sawed back and forth until Godoyo converted an acrobatic layup after coming up with a steal, putting Vandalia up for good, 58-57, with a little more than five minutes remaining.
Ritchey followed with a similarly difficult layup off another Bulldogs turnover at the 5-minute mark, and Vandalia answered a Goeckner bucket with back-to-back buckets by Chase Woolsey — set up beutifully by Godoyo and Ritchey passes, respectively — to open up a five-point lead with four minutes to go.
The Bulldogs refused to go quietly, but after coming up empty on three bunnies on a particuarly frustrating possession, Michael Wells seemed to knock the wind out of St. Anthony’s sails by stripping away a defensive rebound from the Bulldogs and going in for a layup that put Vandalia up 67-61 with 2:20 to go.
St. Anthony was just 2 of 7 from the floor in the final five minutes, with many of those shots being highly makeable.
“We missed a few easy ones — and I can’t fault the guys for missing, but we were dissapointed, because they were easy ones,” Tovey said.
The Vandals wound up hitting 10 of 16 shots from the field in their big fourth quarter, with five different players registering in the scoring column.
Vandalia also finished with just eight turnovers and managed to capitalize on St. Anthony’s 14 turnovers more often than not, as many came on steals and resulted in fast-break buckets.
There were plenty of positives to take away from the game for the Bulldogs, with Goeckner’s play being one of the biggest. The 6-foot-2 junior recorded another double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“He’s been that way for a couple years,” said Tovey of Goeckner, noting he shared time with a pair of veteran post players last year and was a bit out of his element when he playing on the wing. “Now he’s getting more comfortable at the three, and when he’s inside, I don’t know if there’s a better 6-2 worker in the post around.”
Schuette led St. Anthony with 22 points on 10 for 17 shooting, but was limited to seven points in the second half.
Schuette was electric in the opening quarter, scoring 10 points — many coming on difficult pull-up jumpers off the dribble. He also dished out three assists in the opening eight minutes, as St. Anthony raced out to an 18-13 lead.
The Bulldogs did most of their damage inside in the second quarter, scoring 14 of its 19 points in the paint, but they got away from feeding the post a bit in the second half, something Tovey would like to see his team remedy.
“It’s hard for people to understand why we’re upset when they come down and fire one up — maybe not even off the pass, but off the dribble,” Tovey said. “But as successful as we were — especially in the second quarter — getting the ball inside to people, let’s go inside-out with it first.”
Alex Hoelscher added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, who won’t have much time at all to ponder what went wrong against the Vandals.
Ninth-seeded St. Anthony will be busy today, taking on No. 2 seed Maroa-Forsyth at 11 a.m. before turning right around to face No. 5 Shelbyville at 3:30.
“The good news is that we wear white in one game and red in another,” Tovey said. “We don’t have to wash uniforms. We don’t have much time to do much, but, you know, what are you gonna do about it? We’re gonna go play and hopefully play a good game against Maroa and suck it up and come back and play the second game.”
Five Vandals scored in double figures, with Godoyo leading the way with 16 points.
Vandalia 70, St. Anthony 65
Vandalia 13 18 16 23 — 70
St. Anthony 18 19 15 13 — 65
Vandalia — Cowger 0-0 0-2 0, Ritchey 4-10 5-6 13, Harter 4-13 1-2 10, Godoyo 6-15 3-4 16, Co.Woolsey 3-4 1-2 8, Wells 5-9 0-0 10, Ch.Woolsey 6-7 1-2 13. Totals 28-58 11-18 70.
St. Anthony — Z.Gardewine 1-4 1-2 4, Schuette 10-17 2-6 22, A.Gardewine 1-2 2-2 4, Hoelscher 4-7 2-2 10, Goeckner 10-15 1-2 21, Vogel 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 28-48 8-14 65.
3-point goals — Vandalia 3-17 (Ritchey 0-5, Harter 1-6, Godoyo 1-5, Co.Woolsey 1-1), St. Anthony 1-4 (Z.Gardewine 1-2, Schuette 0-2). Rebounds — Vandalia 24 (Ch.Woolsey 6, Co.Woolsey 6, Godoyo 5), St. Anthony 27 (Goeckner 12, Hoelscher 7). Turnovers — Vandalia 8, St. Anthony 14. Personal Fouls — Vandalia 13, St. Anthony 14.