If Beau Washer is going to put a nail in a coffin, he’s going to do it with style.
The Tolton senior had the ball deep inside the Helias 3-point arc Thursday evening in Jefferson City. His squad led 55-51, and junior Deuce Tatum was wide open for a baseline 3. Facing the rim with his right hand extended, Washer whipped the ball behind his back to Tatum.
“There was no other way I could get it to him,” Washer laughed.
The Trailblazers improved to 4-1 with the 66-57 win over their rivals. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Schwartze set the ball down at half court and gave the Crusader student section a cheeky wave goodbye.
“I love playing those guys,” Schwartze said.
Many of the players know one another from summer leagues, and despite the budding rivalry, the friendships remain close. But Thursday night belonged to the Tolton crew.
The first quarter took about six minutes to get going. In the final two minutes, the score jumped from 14 combined points to 27 with Helias leading 16-11.
The offenses stagnated a bit in the second, and that’s when Schwartze took things into his own hands, with a little help from the pick and roll. His quick ballhandling a deft touch around the rim kept the points slowly ticking upward, but his Trailblazers still trailed by one at the half, 24-23.
Early in the third quarter, the Trailblazers jumped into the lead, and on one series, Schwartze stared down his defender and buried a 3 to extend the lead to 30-26. Tolton turned on the jets in third and forced a few turnovers that led to open shots and finishes at the rim in transition. By the end of the third, it led 42-36.
Helias scrambled back into the game at the start of the fourth and tied the game at 42. The Porter brothers, freshman Jevon and junior Coban, responded with a few pull-up jumpers and pushed Tolton back out front. A few series later, Coban Porter buried a 3, but Helias responded. Jevon Porter hit an elbow jumper for Tolton, and then Washer found Tatum with a behind-the-back pass for a 3.
“That was kind of the nail in the coffin,” Schwartze said.
“Our guys are competitors,” Tolton coach Jeremy Osborne said. “Deuce isn’t a 3-point shooter, but when you’re a competitor, you make shots like that.”
Free throws from Tatum, Coban Porter and Washer polished off the game, and the Trailblazers improved their record to 4-1.
The squad had a balanced scoring effort as Tatum, Schwartze and Jevon Porter all finished with 13 points, Washer added 11 and Coban Porter had nine.
“We’re just unselfish. The guys know that when the points go up, they go up for Tolton,” Osborne said.
The Trailblazers’ next game is against Blair Oaks at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home.
Supervising editor is Michaela Bennett.