North Platte St. Pat’s wasted no time establishing a lead over Bridgeport and they never looked back for a 64-31 win on Saturday in the championship game of the South Platte Valley Association tournament.

The tournament was played at the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium.

“Defensively, the effort was great,” St. Pat’s coach Bill O’Malley said after the game. “We did a good job of guarding the ball and forcing it off the three-point line because they have a lot of great shooters. Offensively, we did a good job of attacking the lane off the dribble and post entries.”

The game began with Will Moats getting a three-point play for St. Pat’s (14-2). Brecken Erickson then scored the next two baskets to make it a 7-0 lead.

The Irish stretched the lead to double digits at 14-3 when Andrew Brosius made a three-pointer that followed a Sam Troshynski bucket. It became 17-3 with a three-point play by Erickson.

“I think the start was largely due to the kids’ effort of keeping the ball away from the three-point line and making it difficult to get it to their shooters,” O’Malley said.

Bridgeport (9-5) scored the last three points of the first quarter from the free throw line. Nik Weibert made one of the foul shots. Gage Nein was fouled on a three attempt at the buzzer and he made two of three from the line to make it 17-6 at the end of the period.

But St. Pat’s didn’t let the Bulldogs gain any momentum. Zarek Branch scored the first bucket of the second quarter; Brosius hit another three and Moats banked one home to make it 24-6.

There wasn’t much Bridgeport could do to get back in the game after that. They couldn’t put together a run against the Irish’s stifling defense.

The Bulldogs fought to be down 32-17 at halftime but the lead kept growing in the second half. St. Pat’s led 48-22 and they cruised in the fourth quarter to their third straight SPVA tournament championship.

The Irish won it similar fashion as last year when they blew out Bridgeport, 73-41.

“I made that point to the guys, you never want to have any level of complacency,” O’Malley said. “I hope they appreciate that they’ve been part of a special opportunity here. It’s due to their efforts, obviously, but it’s a neat deal to get it.”

Next, St. Pat’s will host Kimball (4-10) on Jan. 28.

Score by quarters:

Bridgeport: 6-11-5-9 – 31

St. Pat’s: 17-15-16-16 – 64

Bridgeport (31)-Kolby Lussetto 6, Bohdi Dowse 6, Gage Nein 8, Nik Weibert 7, Logen Leithead 4

St. Pat’s (64)-Andrew Brosius 6, Logan Winder 4, Zarek Branch 9, Brecken Erickson 13, Sam Troshynski 7, Thomas Gale 2, Will Moats 17, Sutton Tickle 2, Seth Engler 2, Coy Baker 2

Free throws: B 6-11, SP 18-26; Three-point goals: B 3 (Dowse 2, Weibert), SP 2 (Brosius 2)

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