St. Joseph tips St. Charles East in final seconds for tourney title

St. Charles East lost to St. Joseph in heartbreaking - perhaps fitting - fashion Saturday in the championship game of the 59th annual Ron Johnson Thanksgiving Tournament.

The Saints battled the Chargers for 32 minutes, but their main problem - rebounding - reared its head again in the closing seconds.

Jordan Boyd tipped in a missed shot with 2.3 seconds left, giving St. Joseph a 62-60 win over the Saints.

Boyd's rebound was his 13th of the game and eighth on the offensive end.

"That was the difference in the game," Chargers Hall of Fame coach Gene Pingatore said. "They really shoot the ball well. It's always a fight."

The Saints beat the Chargers 51-50 in a barnburner last year, then topped St. Charles North in the title game when Justin Hardy's hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.

St. Charles East (4-1) had one last chance after Boyd's basket for another dramatic win. This time the Chargers' intercepted the Saints' full-court pass.

St. Joseph (5-0) finished with a 41-23 rebounding advantage, 24-7 on the offensive glass.

"They absolutely killed us," Saints coach Patrick Woods said. "We knew they would take the last shot but you have to get the rebound and that didn't happen. Not the end of the world but disappointing nonetheless."

The Saints controlled the action early, taking a 10-4 lead on Hardy's bucket and extending to an 18-10 advantage with 8 straight points from Zach Robinson.

The first of Hardy's two dunks put St. Charles East ahead 21-17 after the first quarter.

St. Joseph outscored the Saints 20-10 in the second quarter to take a 6-point halftime lead, then opened its biggest lead at 46-36 midway through the third quarter.

Mark Musial drained a 3-pointer to start the Saints' comeback. He made two more in the second half including one that tied the game at 47.

The Saints fell behind again until a 3 from Nate Ortiz tied the game at 56 with 3:05 left. Musial scored on a layup to briefly put St. Charles East up 58-56, their first lead since the second quarter.

The Chargers regained the lead 60-58 as Jon Robinson drove for a basket and Jalen Boyd made two free throws. Hardy sank two free throws to tie the game at 60 before St. Joseph held the ball for the final 40 seconds.

The Saints stopped the initial shot but couldn't clear the rebound.

"We're way undersized to them obviously," said Robinson, who was joined on the all-tournament team by Hardy and Ortiz. "We showed resilience there (down 10). We could easily have gave it away but we fought back. Didn't bounce our way at the end."

Boyd led the Chargers with 22 points and Joffari Brown added 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.

Hardy (21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists), Robinson (15 points) and Musial (11 points) all hit double figures for the Saints.

"I saw some good things out of us tonight," Woods said. "Mark, we all knew he could do that. It was good to see him get involved.

"Overall I thought the quality of play was better this year. No dominant team but if you didn't play a good game you were going to lose. I thought everyone challenged us. Next year we'll be back to 8 (teams), I think we have some quality candidates. I think this helped prepare for us the next few games."

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