Replacing collared shirts with jerseys and dinner dates with a crowded gym, the Tolton boys basketball team found a new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Friday night.
The Trailblazers exploded early against St. Francis Borgia, jumping out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“Anytime it’s that early on, you’re not focused on the score,” head coach Jeremy Osborne said. “You’re focused on doing the things that got that lead instead of how big that lead is, and I think early on we did a really good job of just executing.”
Maintaining their substantial lead throughout the second quarter, the Trailblazer offense continued to sink bucket after bucket. Though St. Francis Borgia senior guard Cole Weber put up multiple 3-point shots of his own, the small comeback was not enough to challenge Tolton’s lead and the Trailblazers entered the half up 28-14.
The second half of the game proved to be less one-sided than the first, as the Knights and Trailblazers spent the third quarter in a fierce back-and-forth, though Tolton still led 41-28 going into the final quarter.
It was at this point that freshman guard James Lee would enter the game for the Trailblazers. Immediately drawing a foul, sinking both free throws and turning around to hit a 3 all within thirty seconds, Lee’s performance would not only put Tolton up five additional points, but would set the tone for the rest of the quarter.
“That’s James for you,” Osborne said. “We felt tonight was a good opportunity for him to get his feet wet, and he came up big for us. The most impressive thing was that his teammates had the confidence in him, and he had the confidence in him, to make those plays.”
The Trailblazers would go on to defeat the Knights 57-40, though an impressive victory wasn’t the only celebration happening that night. Senior guard Lael Haile was crowned Tolton Courtwarming King at halftime, and sophomore forward Tahki Chievous spent his 16th birthday surrounded by his teammates and fans.
Now, with a win over the Knights to boost the Trailblazers’ spirits, Tolton is already looking to learn from Friday’s game and apply it to the next.
“The overall theme of being efficient offensively, as we were tonight, being aggressive defensively and limiting their clean looks is something we can take into next game,” Osborne said.
After losing to Cardinal Ritter on Thursday, the Trailblazers will take on the Lions once again at home at 1 p.m. on Feb. 22.