On paper the best game of the night at St. Pat’s was going to be the 7-2 Haymakers taking on the 6-2 Irish in the boys contest.
The blowout would come in the girls game, where 9-1 and state-ranked St. Pat’s was battling the 3-6 Lady Haymakers.
That’s why they play the games, because records mean little in sports.
The Irish used a 13-2 run to end the first quarter and later had a 20-0 run to rout Cozad 60-31 in the boys game, while the Lady Irish took three quarters to tie Cozad 23-23 before an aggressive fourth quarter allowed St. Pat’s to improve to 10-1 on the season with a 40-30 win.
The Lady Haymakers proved to be tough to handle for St. Pat’s in the girls game.
“They played us tough,” said St. Pat’s assistant coach Brad Braithwait. “They did a good job pressuring us and we were loose with the ball.
“We try to emphasize to value every possession, but it doesn’t always happen.”
Cozad took an early 7-2 lead in the first quarter and maintained a lead until St. Pat’s tied the game at 23-23 at the end of the third quarter.
Hurting the Lady Irish were miscues in the first half. St. Pat’s turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, eight of those coming in the first quarter.
Cozad was up 13-6 when Brittany Lawrence, who scored all nine of her points in the first half, was fouled while making a layup. The three-point play cut the margin to 13-9.
Neither team played well in the second quarter, as the Lady Irish cut the lead to two at 16-14 at halftime. Hurting the Lady Irish was foul trouble. Sam Byrn had three fouls midway through the fourth quarter and sat the rest of the half.
“We couldn’t press the way we wanted to in the first half because we were in foul trouble,” Braithwait said. “After we got things tied up going into the fourth, we decided this is who we are and we’re going to press aggressively, no matter what happens.”
The Lady Irish took off is what happened. Cozad’s Kaylea Reyes hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Haymakers a 26-23 lead, but St. Pat’s answered. Shelby Allberry tied the game at 26-26 with a 3-pointer and the press was on. A steal led to a bucket by Byrn and a timeout by Cozad.
After the time out, the Lady Irish run continued. Midway through the quarter a technical foul was called on Cozad’s bench and later, a 3-pointer by Mandy O’Malley put the lead at 10.
“We didn’t play that bad offensively,” Braithwait said. “But we could not make our shots.
“We couldn’t make a shot inside to save our lives for a while.”
Byrn led the Lady Irish with 15 points — all in the second half. Lawrence finished with nine and Allberry scored eight.
Reyes led Cozad (3-8) with 11 points.
The Irish boys didn’t get off to a great start against the Haymakers. Cozad raced out to a 7-3 lead on five points from Connor Young and a bucket from Jacob Rush. However, the Irish wouldn’t be behind for long.
A 13-2 finish to the quarter lifted the Irish to a 16-9 lead after one stanza and St. Pat’s used a 20-9 second quarter to go up 36-18 at halftime.
Everything was working for St. Pat’s. The Irish (7-2) outrebounded the Haymakers 21-8 in the first half. Alex Harms and Joseph Clinch combined for 22 points inside and it looked like things couldn’t be better.
St. Pat’s used a 20-0 run in the second half to increase it’s edge to 50-30. The Irish held Cozad (7-3) to two points in the third quarter — the first two points of the quarter — before going on a 14-0 run to finish the stanza and take a 50-20 edge. The run went another six points in the fourth quarter before Irish coach Bill O’Malley started freely substituting.
“We did a great job against a team that is aggressive with the dribble penetration,” O’Malley said. “We were patient on offense and we played very well.
“We rebounded the ball. I wish I could say it was a point of emphasis over the holiday break, but it wasn’t. Our guys just do a real good job rebounding and it’s really making a difference right now.”
O’Malley said it was as important for his team to get off to a good start, before he was reminded his team trailed 7-3 to start the game.
“Really?” he asked. “We played so well, I guess I didn’t notice.
“We got into our offense and we played a good game. We needed to get our intensity level up and we did.”
Clinch led the Irish with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Harms and Sean Keenan each scored 10 for the game and Mark Mayfield scored nine points, eight in the second half.
Young led the Haymakers with eight points, while Jake Paulsen added seven.
St. Pat’s hosts Mullen in both girls and boys games on Tuesday, while Cozad hosts Gothenburg on Thursday.