Monday, January 15, 2018

O'Neil's Day Down Low Lifts St. John's Prep to Win over O'Bryant

By: Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612) 

Tommy O’Neil knew before he took the floor that it would be his day.

O’Neil scored 22 points and hauled in 15 rebounds as St. John’s Prep defeated O’Bryant, 73-58, on Monday morning in the BABC Slides Bar and Grill Holliday Classic at Cathedral High School.

While the Eagles (6-2) struggled from the perimeter, they more than made up for it with their size and athleticism.

For the game, the Prep out-rebounded O’Bryant 46-24, including 15 offensive rebounds. Those offensive rebounds often turned into points as the Eagles finished the game with 18-second chance points.

“We knew we had an advantage with our size," said St. John’s Prep coach John Dullea. “If we can take advantage of it, allow the other team only one shot, and then get out and go we will be successful. Then also on the offensive end, crash the boards, and take advantage of our size. Today we felt we had the opportunity to do that and we did that in the second half."

Defensively the Eagles kept Rivaldo Soares and the Tigers (6-2) from getting into any sort of rhythm.

While Soares finished the game with 16 points, the Eagles’ Matt Relihan proved more than up to the task. Relihan held Soares to just 5-of-19 shooting.

O’Bryant finished the game with just a 35-percent mark from the field (19-of-55).

“Matt (Relihan) is a terrific defender for us," said Dullea. "This was a good matchup for him size was. Soares is a very talented player. He can score from pretty much anywhere at this level. Matt really made him work."

St. John’s held a 34-30 lead at the half but used the opening minutes of the third quarter to pull away.

Nate Hobbs (25 points) came through with a steal and score before knocking down a pair of free throws.

Freshman Will Batchelder then showed off his range connecting on a triple from the top of the key. Moments later, Relihan capped off the 9-0 spurt for the Eagles corralling his own miss and knocking down a mid range jump shot. The run handed the Prep a 47-34 advantage.

St. John’s opened up its third quarter lead to as many as 13, but a corner triple early in the corner from Soares and three more points for Dasonte Bowen pulled the Tigers within 54-49 early in the final stanza.

Relihan, however, answered right back swishing a three pointer from of the top of the key.

O’Neil then put the nail in the coffin grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it in through contact to put the Prep up 61-49.

The Eagles’ senior forward scored nine points over the final four minutes to seal the Prep’s sixth win of the season.

“We knew going into it we had a pretty distinct advantage down low," said O'Neil."We knew going into today we had to clean up on the boards and we did a pretty good job of that overall."

Hobbs got St. John’s off and running in the early going scoring four points in the games first two minutes to give the Prep a 6-2 lead.

The two sides traded baskets into the opening part of the second quarter before the Eagles started to show signs of separation.

With the Prep ahead 23-22, Relihan hit a right corner trey off the dribble and then off a Soares bucket O’Neil scored five straight to lead the Prep to a 34-30 advantage at the break.

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