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To use an old cliché, one might say that the St. Catharine College Patriots are the best 1-10 team in the state. At this early juncture of the season, J.T. Burton’s team is probably the only team with 11 games played as the Patriots became road warriors last week with five games in seven days.
And in that stretch of games that spanned a distance from central Ohio to western Kentucky, the Patriots showed both potential as well as the expected fatigue. They played well against some tough competition and not as well against some lesser opponents.
The highlight of the week in which the Patriots went 1-4 was actually one of the games on the L side as they dropped a tough 76-66 exhibition game at D-I Murray State. The Patriots led the Racers, the same team that battered Western Kentucky by 28 points, by as many as four points in the second half but a procession to the free throw line late in the game allowed the Racers to escape with the 10 point victory.
“That shows what we can do,” said Burton. “We have a D-I team down on their court late in the game. They made 25 of 26 free throws which was the difference in the game.”
St. Catharine guard Victor Garcia made a difference also as the 6-3 junior from the Dominican Republic scored a game-high 27 points while grabbing eight rebounds – which tied Murray’s Tony Easley for game high honors on the boards. Brandon Johnson added 15 points for the Patriots and Arthur Latham had 14.
The Racers (4-1), who had just one field goal in the final 7:26 of the game, were led by Jeffrey McClain who had 20 points including a school record 14-14 at the foul line.
The busy week started for the Patriots on Monday when they journeyed to Lima, Ohio, where they dropped a 79-69 decision to Northwestern Ohio. Latham and Brandon Johnson shared scoring honors with 20 points apiece. Garcia added 15. Turnovers plagued the Patriots as they committed 20 miscues while handing out only 10 assists.
On Tuesday they fell 86-77 in overtime to Wright State-Lake as Johnson paced the Patriots with 31 points while Latham had 12. The losing streak continued Friday in the first game of the Spalding University tournament in a 72-60 setback to Asbury College. Poor shooting doomed the Patriots in the loss as they hit just 32 percent from the field. Garcia and Latham each had 17 points while Johnson pitched in 11.
After Saturday’s gritty performance at Murray, the Patriots returned to Louisville for the final game of the Spalding tournament. There they were able to notch their first win of the season as they edged the host Eagles 56-55. Four players scored in double figures led by Kevin Owens’ 11 points. Johnson, Garcia and Latham each had 10.
Despite the win, Burton said his team “really laid an egg in this game.” He added, “I’m sure all of the games we had during the week, and all of them on the road, was a factor. We played like we were really tired, but luckily we were able to hang on.”
The Patriots get a well-deserved rest this week before playing Friday and Saturday at Georgetown College in the Jim Reid Classic. On Friday they will play Aquinas (Michigan) at 4 p.m. Edward Waters College and Georgetown College are the other two teams in the tournament. The consolation game will be at 4 p.m. Saturday with the championship game at 8 p.m.