BELLAIRE - St. John Central senior Garrett Holubeck hasn't been involved in many boys' basketball victories during his career.
So, that's why he was happy that Irish held off a game East Richland Christian squad Tuesday night, 74-56, inside the Greenhouse on Guernsey Street.
"One of our seniors (Garrett) said 'it wasn't pretty, but it was a win,'" St. John Central head coach Kevin Lahna said. "That's the thing that we haven't been able to do the last couple of seasons ... put teams away. We've folded in the past when things haven't went our way like missing shots and getting into foul trouble.
"Not taking anything away from East Richland, but we played horrible defense tonight, and we were kind of out of whack offensively," Lahna admitted. "It's nice to see us be able to prevail when we don't necessarily play our best game. That's a tribute to those kids for all the hard work they've put it."
Leading 45-33 midway through the third quarter and the Lions (5-7) making one of their mini runs, Holubeck reeled off nine straight points as the Irish started to slowly, but surely, pull away.
"We just didn't come out and play defensively," first-year East Richland Christian head coach Jordan Barbina explained. "We relied on one guy tonight. We had a big snow break there and we were playing team basketball before it. Since then, we've been relying on one guy to do the scoring."
That player would be Joel Mott. The 5-11 junior nearly scored half of his team's points as he kept them in the game before fouling out in the fourth quarter. He finished with a game-best 27 points, including a 13-for-15 effort from the charity stripe, despite not scoring in the first eight minutes.
"He's the type of player that can carry you," Barbina said of Mott. "He's a special player."
The Irish had a pretty special player in their own in Guy Pagano. The freshman scored 25 points, including 15 in the first half when the hosts built a 34-23 halftime advantage.
"He's played well of late," Lahna noted. "He was injured there for a stretch and missed three game or we could be a lot better than our record indicates. We let Conotton Valley, Toronto and Beallsville off the hook."
In addition to Mott's game-leading tallies, senior Logan Lish also found twin digits with 13. Trevor Hamm contributed seven, but pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Lish added eight boards and Mott six.
Joining Pagano in double figures were a trio of teammates, led by Lance Williams with 15. Holubeck finished with 14 and Malik Ford had a dozen.
The Lions led 44-41 off the glass and also had one more turnover at 15-14.
There was no JV game contested.
EAST RICHLAND CHRISTIAN (56) - Jo. Mott 6 13-13 27; Lish 5 3-5 13; Hamm 3 1-4 7; Je. Mott 2 0-0 4; Bruner 1 1-2 3; Bell 1 0-0 2; Berk 0 0-0 0; Totals; 18-57 18-26. ST. JOHN CENTRAL (74) - Williams 6 2-3 15; Holubeck 5 2-2 14; Ford 4 3-4 10; Pagano 8 8-11 25; Bossell 0 0-0 0; Clark 3 0-0 6; Opic 0 0-2 0; Whorton 0 3-4 3; Totals: 26-56 18-26.
Three-Point Goals: East Richland Christian 2 (Jo. Mott 2); St. John Central 4 (Holubeck 2, Williams, Pagano)
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