A win over the Gators would’ve given the Bulldogs a 3-0 start and created a tie with Fairmont at the top.
Similar to St. Pauls’ non-conference season, the Bulldogs’ Hyde, not Jekyll, showed its ugly face.
St. Pauls squandered its opportunity at first place in a frustrating 71-51 home loss that included 27 turnovers.
“We got into a streetball game and got embarrassed,” St. Pauls coach Travis Lemanski said. “I don’t care about losing … it’s how we lost that is really disappointing.”
Down by as many as 14 in the third quarter after pulling to within two at intermission, Antonio Henderson’s jumper trimmed St. Pauls’ deficit to six with 5:14 remaining in the game.
Then, as Lemanski would put it, the wheels came off.
East Columbus senior guard T.J. Wilson took over what was left in what became a one-man onslaught for the Gators. One of the conference’s top scorers at 17.1 points per game scored eight of his team’s next 10 points during a 10-0 run that put the Bulldogs away.
Wilson knifed his way through the lane for a game-high 29 points to help East Columbus erase its 0-2 start in league play.
“After their guy got ejected and got the crowd into it, Wilson went to work,” Lemanski said.
The loss was St. Pauls’ 11th in 14 games and seventh overall by double digits. Most of East Columbus’ production came in transition, a result of run-outs and length-of-the-floor assists after long rebounds.
“We’ve been up and down all year, but our motto is defense,” said East Columbus coach Curtis Moss. “Our defense is our bread and butter, we just have to be ready to play it every night. That was probably our best (night of defense) this season.”
Henderson led St. Pauls with 20 points, followed by a 13-point effort from Deonte McMillian. St. Pauls’ top-scoring guard Deion Gilchrist had a single field goal.
“I’ve gone with the same starting lineup all season, but I told the guys after the game if I have to make a change, I will,” Lemanski said. “Antonio is the only guy we have playing with consistency right now. A lot of guys are giving up when we fall behind.”
Palazzola leads Bulldogs’ 3-0 start
Fueled by a harassing defense and a talented senior forward, St. Pauls’ girls basketball team ran its conference win streak to three Friday night with a 43-33 decision over East Columbus.
In the first half, the Bulldogs forced 22 turnovers and scored 10 of their 25 points in transition to pull ahead the Gators — previously unbeaten in Three Rivers play. Bianca Palazzola scored 10 of her team-high 13 points in the first 16 minutes and anchored a 12-2 run to open the contest.
St. Pauls (8-6, 3-0) point guard Alexis Roberson chipped in with 10 points and five assists.
After trailing by as many as 16, the Gators (8-3, 2-1) pulled to within seven at 38-31 with 3:17 remaining. Over a span of 6:12, East Columbus center Meonti Campbell scored 14 straights points to lead the Gators’ late rally.
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org