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JOHNS CREEK (GA) – St. Pius deserved a round of applause for its defense against Northview.
With suffocating pressure for majority of the contest, the Golden Lions extended their perfect start to the season with an 84-50 road win over the Titans on December 14.
St. Pius (7-0) was equally impressive on the offensive end as well with Trey Acklin leading the way with 14 points and fellow seniors Brookes Kahlert and Callum Petersen both adding 13. Petersen played a huge role in building the Golden Lions’ lead early in the first quarter by nailing three straight 3-pointers on the way to a double-digit advantage (22-10) at the close of the period.
“Cal is a really good 3-point shooter,” St. Pius coach Aaron Parr said. “He works on it all the time. Our guys really believe in him and try to find him in transition because they feel like it’s going in. They have a lot of confidence in him. That really sparked us at the beginning of the game and got our energy up. I thought that set the tone for our confidence.”
But the Golden Lions’ full-court defense was the driving force behind this dominant region victory. St. Pius made it tough for Northview to get the ball inbounds, up the court and end possessions with shots. The Golden Lions also forced the Titans into a pair of 5-second violations while trying to inbound the ball.
“I thought our pressure got better as the game went on,” Parr said. “One thing we try to pride ourselves on is never stopping–relentless defensive pressure the entire game. We try to play about 12 guys and our guys know that the biggest thing is that they have to go 100 percent 100 percent of the time. That is a pillar of our program and even if we are hitting shots or not hitting shots we want to make sure that that 100 percent 100 percent of the time is there especially on defense every night, every practice and every game.”
In the second and third quarters, the uptempo pace of the game helped both teams on the offensive end but St. Pius maintained a comfortable lead and entered the final frame ahead 59-44 after back-to-back 3s by Kahlert.
Then in the fourth, the Golden Lions turned the pressure back up, preventing Northview (1-2) from scoring until the 2:58 mark of the quarter. During that span, St. Pius went on a 13-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Owen Mccurdy had nine points and four steals and fellow junior Eamonn Kenah added eight for the Golden Lions.
“We haven’t mentioned being perfect yet,” Parr said. “We’re just trying to get better one day at a time. The pursuit of improvement is way more important than the wins.”
Ivoryon Cuffee and Keyshawn Williams were the main sources of the Titans’ offense. Cuffee, who scored a game-high 17 points, showcased an impressive ability to get to the basket and finish tough shots. Williams nailed four 3-pointers on his way to 16 points.