Bears fizzle after fast start

By Bill Althaus
William Chrisman's Dayne Herl (23) goes up for a shot between St. Joseph Lafayette defenders Jamar James, left, and Camden Bennett in Monday's first-round game in the Phog Allen Invitational. Herl scored 14 points to lead the Bears but they fell 77-54 to the Fighting Irish.

After a promising first quarter, that was punctuated by a Dayne Herl 3-pointer at the buzzer, the William Chrisman boys basketball team learned it has much work to do this season.

St. Joseph Lafayette used a strong second period en route to a 77-54 victory in the opening game of the Phog Allen Invitational Monday night at Chrisman.

Trailing just 16-14 after the opening eight minutes the Bears watched the Fighting Irish run off the first seven points of the quarter as they took a commanding 37-23 lead into halftime.

A shot by William Chrisman's Anthony Watkins, center, is blocked by St. Joseph Lafayette's Mikey Thomas, right, as Samuel Ryan (4) also defends Monday at Chrisman. The host Bears lost 77-54 in the first round of the season-opening Phog Allen Invitational.

“After tonight I really feel the need for us to come together as a team and to play four quarters of basketball, not just one or two like we did tonight,” said senior Alex Atagi, a senior center who scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

“We had so much intensity when we came out, then they got on that run and we started doing our own thing and forgot about the team aspect that made the first quarter so competitive.

“It’s a disappointing way to start the season, but we’re so young, and when you start in a tournament you can work on some things so you will be more prepared and ready when the conference season starts.”

Assistant coach Jacob Derritt – who was in charge of the Bears because head coach Jake Kates received two technicals in the final game of 2019-20 season and had to sit out the opener this season – knows exactly what this young Bears team needs to do.

William Chrisman's Sir'Rahn Felix (1) gers a shot off over St. Joseph Lafayette's Camden Bennett in the season opener in the Phog Allen Invitational Monday at Chrisman. The host Bears fell 77-54.

“Right now, we’re laying our foundation, and we are going to continue to build on that foundation as the season goes on,” Derritt said. “We came out strong, then we faced some adversity in the second quarter and we didn’t know how to handle it. And we lost our poise, and that led to losing the game.

“We’re so young, but that’s no excuse. This team is going to be a work in progress. And after tonight, we know exactly what we have to work on.”

The Irish used a strong inside/outside game with guard Mikey Thomas hitting two 3-pointers along with going 11 of 12 from the free throw line to lead all scorers with 18 points. While he took care of the outside game, reserve forward Camden Bennett came off the bench to dominate in the paint, scoring 16 frome close range.

William Chrisman senior Alex Atagi banks in a basket in Monday's first-round game against St. Joseph Lafayette in the season-opening Phog Allen Invitational. Atagi tallied 12 points and seven rebounds but the Bears lost 77-54.

“They had the outside shooters and the good inside game and we just didn’t get it done defensively tonight,” Atagi added. “And that’s disappointing because we work so much on defense.”

The Bears lost eight seniors off last year’s team that won the Phog Allen Invitational with a classic overtime win over Truman on a last second shot by Isaiah Jackson.

But no one at Chrisman is ready to push the panic button.

“This is Coach Kates’ 20th year and my 12th year and we’ve worked with young teams like this before, so we know what to do to help them get better as the season goes on,” Derritt said. “They’re young, and we’re going to work with them and watch them grow up and have a lot of success.”

Herl, a junior guard, finished with 14 points to lead the Bears.

William Chrisman's Trey Kates (15) gets a shot off against St. Joseph Lafayette's Samuel Ryan, right, in the Bears' 77-54 loss Monday in the first-round game in the Phog Allen Invitational.