Chase County head coach Carl Zuege went into the SPVA Conference Tournament boys final on Saturday night worried about St. Pat’s senior Sean Keenan.
Instead, the Longhorns should have been looking for junior Mark Mayfield.
Mayfield scored 22 points to lead the Irish to a 44-33 win over Chase County and the conference championship at North Platte Community College.
“We were worried about Keenan,” Zuege said. “We knew Mayfield was capable of scoring — as well as some others — but Keenan had been the one to get us.
“St. Pat’s played well.”
St. Pat’s head coach Bill O’Malley said Mayfield had a good game.
“Mark played a strong, consistent game,” O’Malley said. “He stayed with it and got some good looks.
“He didn’t dominate. It was almost a quiet 22 points, but he had a great game.”
The Irish and Longhorns played a close first quarter, with St. Pat’s getting a 12-10 lead. The Irish were able to stretch the lead to five at 22-17 by halftime, but the final play of the first half may end up hurting the Irish down the road.
Keenan got the ball with 4 seconds remaining, dribbled to just inside half court and passed, but came down on his leg wrong and stayed down for a few moments as the teams went to the locker room.
“He hurt his knee somehow,” O’Malley said. “He tried to go in the second half, but he just couldn’t.”
Chase County couldn’t take advantage of the Irish being short-handed as St. Pat’s built its lead to 35-23 at the end of third quarter.
“Their pressure defense kept us at out of our offense,” Zuege said. “I thought our defense played well too, but they were able to get some rebounds and we weren’t able to take better care of the basketball and it hurt us.
“But I thought our boys did a good job on the defensive end.”
The Irish built the lead to 15 at 38-23 early in the fourth quarter and the Longhorns were never able to get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
“I thought our defense played great and kept them from getting shots,” O’Malley said. “We did a good job of pressure and we were able to get some offensive rebounds which helped in the second half.”
St. Pat’s first three buckets were on fast-break layups, but the Longhorns corrected their defense and put a stop to the Irish’s running.
“They adjusted well,” O’Malley said. “After the first couple of run outs, they started getting back better and forcing us into our half-court offense.
“After the initial burst of energy, it took us a little while to settle down into the offense. I’m very proud of the guys and what they were able to accomplish.”
Mayfield was the only St. Pat’s player in double figures on the night. Joseph Clinch had seven points and Alex Harms added six points.
Kelton Fisher led the Longhorns in scoring with 12 points. Isaac Sorenson added six points.
St. Pat’s improves to 13-2 on the season and will host Anselmo-Merna on Tuesday. The Longhorns fell to 6-10 and will play at Haxtun, Colo., next Saturday.
St. Pat’s (13-2)................................12 10 13 9 — 44
Chase County (6-10)........................10 7 6 10 — 33
St. Pat’s stats: (2 pt., 3 pt., ft pts.) Sean Keenan 1 0 1/2 5; Joseph O’Malley 0 0 1/2 1; Brandon Niesen 0 0 1/5 1; Matthew Burhman 1 0 0/0 2; Joseph Clinch 2 0 3/4 7; Alex Harms 3 0 0/0 6; Mark Mayfield 7 1 5/9 22
Chase County stats: (2 pt., 3 pt., ft pts.) Travis Luhrs 1 1 0/0 5; Freddie Kasselman 2 0 0/0 4; Jeffrey Dickey 1 0 0/0 2; Kelton Fisher 5 0 2/2 12; Trey Milner 1 0 2/2 4; Isaac Sorenson 3 0 0/0 6.