By Chris Yow
LEIPERS FORK — Andy Slaughter wasn’t going to be denied his first win at Grace Christian on Tuesday night. The junior guard for Santa Fe poured in 32 points and grabbed 12 boards to lead his team to a 65-54 win over the Lions.
After Grace took its first lead of the second half just 10 seconds into the fourth quarter and pushed the lead to four points, Slaughter took over. He hit a jumper to end an 8-0 run, cutting the lead to 46-44, and added two free throws, a steal and lay up to put the Wildcats ahead 49-46. That was the beginning of a 16-0 run for Santa Fe, one which coach Brad Slaughter was relieved to see come late.
“It was a very physical game tonight,” he said. “Andy was tired, but when we needed it he came through for us.
“A lot of guys made big plays down the stretch for us.”
Among those with big plays in the fourth quarter was Colton Steward, who finished with 17 points in the contest. He was also a force on the defensive side of the ball.
“Colton stepped up tonight and had a really big night after struggling in our opener,” coach Slaughter said. “He was a difference-maker tonight for us.”
Santa Fe opened up the game with an early lead, but Grace battled back and tied the game at 11 on a CJ Tinnon 3-pointer and then took a 14-11 lead to the end of the quarter on a Will Beasley trey. The Lions dropped 10 3-pointers in the contest, but only four in the second half.
“I thought what we saw in the second half was a much better defensive effort,” coach Slaughter said. “When we defend, we’re really good. I thought we played excellent defense in stretches and terrible in stretches.
“When we can get our defense figured out, we’ll be right where we want to be.”
The Wildcats are scheduled to return to action Dec. 1 at home against East Hickman.
Pressure forces Lady Cats to fall behind early in loss at Grace
A stellar performance by Emmy Bates was not enough for Santa Fe’s girls on Tuesday, as they fell 60-39 to Grace Christian. Bates finished with a game-high 20 points and added seven rebounds for the Lady Wildcats, but she was the lone bright spot for Jonathan Slaughter’s club.
Bates’ play after halftime helped Santa Fe cut into a 32-21 halftime lead for Grace. Behind her, the Lady ‘Cats dwindled the lead down to just five points, but Grace adjusted their defense to force someone else to take over.
“We adjusted to their press at halftime and were able to get (Bates) in the middle, and she made good decisions with the ball to help us get the lead down to five points,” Slaughter said. “But they went to a box-and-one on her, and we didn’t know what to do.”
Making adjustments in the huddle during a timeout doesn’t always translate to the playing floor, and that was the case for Santa Fe following the new-look defense from the Lady Lions.
“When they started denying her, our other girls didn’t make good decisions with the ball and we had a lot of turnovers,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting a box-and-one, so we haven’t worked on it in practice. We drew something up, but couldn’t execute it.
“With young players and teams like ours is, if you haven’t worked on it in practice, it’s hard to do it in a game.”
Santa Fe earned the double-bonus in the third quarter, but shot just 10-of-21 on the night from the charity stripe. The Lady ‘Cats were out scored 17-3 in the fourth quarter.
Natalie Kaye led Grace with 18 points in the game, one of only two players in double figures for the Lady Lions, the other being Charlie Black.
Santa Fe 65 boys, Grace Chr. 54
SF 11 19 12 23 — 65
GC 14 13 14 13 — 54
Santa Fe (65) — Will Monhollen 3, Logan Wilkins 2, Weston McClanahan 11, Colton Steward 17, Andy Slaughter 32
Grace Chr. (54) — Ashton Kelley 4, Will Beasley 10, Ren Caldwell 9, Jackson Hiett 5, CJ Tinnon 9, Jordan Carter 12, Jackson Sleeper 2, Trace Phillips 3
3-pointers — Santa Fe 3 (McClanahan 2, Slaughter), Grace Christian 10 (Caldwell 3, Beasley 2, Carter 2, Hiett, Tinnon, Phillips)
Grace Chr. girls 60, Santa Fe 39
SF 9 12 15 3 — 39
GC 15 17 11 17 — 60
Santa Fe (39) — Terralyn Pemberton 4, Gracie Mills 7, Emmy Bates 20, Aniston Slaughter 1, Hattie Hedrick 4, Jade Arnold 3
Grace Chr. (60) — Campbell Spencer 6, Natalie Kaye 18, McKenzie Kaye 7, Adyson Wolf 4, Charlie Black 11, Carlie Mason 8, Madelyn Gregg 6
3-pointers —Santa Fe 3 (Bates 2, Arnold), Grace Christian 3 (M. Kaye 2, N. Kaye)