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St. Edward's Adrian Ponce (left) battles for a rebound with Harvest Christian's Dan Turpin (center) during the Westminster Christian Tournament on Monday. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Good height can do more for a basketball team than make the interior defense and offense more formidable, and St. Edward proved it Monday in the season opener at the Westminster Christian tournament.
St. Edward’s height made its press difficult for Harvest Christian ball handlers to see over and helped lead to a quick 11-2 lead en route to a 58-36 victory.
“We’re a little bit taller and quicker than we have been in the past,” St. Edward coach P.J. White said. “So last year when we tried pressing people we were trapping with guys who were 5-6, 5-7. Now we’re trapping with 6-3, 6-4.
“We know we can’t put that press on and play at that tempo the whole game yet but that’s the goal.”
Adrian Ponce, the Green Wave’s 6-4 senior star, is the key on the press and his leaping, quickness, and long arms helped in the trap as St. Edward forced turnovers six of Harvest Christian’s first seven times up the floor.
The Green Wave scored six points off those turnovers to get the big early lead. Ponce had 10 of his game-high 19 points in the first quarter as he got to the basket at the other end after the turnovers.
“To me, I feel like I can guard anybody, so it doesn’t matter if they’re fast or whatever,” Ponce said. “That’s why coach puts me on the press. I’ve got long arms and everything so I like to go up there and be aggressive and steal the ball.”
Ponce, however, got into foul trouble with three by the second quarter, and left. In his absence, sophomore starters Nick Duffy (6-4) and Danny Favela (6-3) stepped it up.
Favela scored 10 of his 11 points in the second and third quarters to help St. Edward keep a respectable lead at 40-27 starting the fourth quarter. Then Duffy got five of his 11 in the early fourth quarter when Ponce returned and the Green Wave turned it into a blowout.
“We actually have some depth,” White said. “So when Adrian gets in foul trouble we have other guys in the game when we’re pressing.
“He’s going to get some fouls doing that, but when he comes into the game with three fouls you’ve got to be smart. But I don’t want to stop his aggressiveness.”
Ponce had nine rebounds and both Duffy and Favela had five boards for St. Edward, while Austin Murray had a solid role-playing effort with seven rebounds, all in the second and third quarters.
New Harvest Christian coach Jeff Boldog wasn’t too displeased with the first effort by his team.
Center John Vislisel had 17 points and eight rebounds and Noah Fox had eight points, while Stuart Wolff contributed five points and nine rebounds.
“For the first time with new coaches, our first time learning a new offense, they got a little jittery,” Boldog said. “We’re working out the bugs. The one thing I was impressed with was they played hard. They never quit.”
The 26 turnovers committed by Harvest Christian didn’t sit well with their new coach, but 11 came in the first quarter.
“Turnovers were the key,” he said. “A lot of unforced turnovers. We’ve got to do a better job protecting the basketball.
“If we can do that and shots fall a little bit we’ll be all right.”
Harvest Christian made just 13-of-41 from the floor (32 percent).
“We couldn’t get our shots to fall,” Boldog said.
ST. EDWARD 58, HARVEST CHRISTIAN 36
St. Edward (1-0)
Nick Duffy 4 3-4 11, Antonio Domel 2 0-1 4, Danny Favela 4 3-6 11, Adrian Ponce 8 3-4 19, Austin Murray 0 2-4 2, Logan Danner 1 0-0 2, Conall Brannon 2 0-0 4, John Butzow 1 0-0 3, Mike Butzow 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 11-19 58.
Harvest Christian (0-1)
Stuart Wolff 1 3-5 5, John Vislisel 7 3-10 17, Dan Turpin 1 2-6 4, Kyle Fritz 1 0-0 2, Noah Fox 3 2-2 8. Totals 13 10-23 36.
St. Edward 15 14 11 18 -- 58
Harvest Christian 7 11 7 11 -- 36
3-point goals: St. Edward (1) – Johhn Butzow 1.