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Jordan Ash is healthy, St. Joseph is starting to hit its stride and the two are directly connected.
A smooth shooting sophomore left-hander, Ash missed nearly a month from complications of back spasms. He received special treatment. “He’s a stabilizing force for them who gives them another quality shooter,” St. Ignatius coach Rich Kehoe said.
Ash scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the second half as the visiting Chargers broke free of the Wolfpack 47-41 in Catholic League play Friday night on the West Side.
“I can’t do it alone,” Ash said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me in spots where I could do something, and fortunately I was able to knock down shots,” he said.
After a tie and six lead changes in the opening 13 minutes, St, Joseph (15-10, 7-3 Catholic South) asserted control with an 8-0 burst to reverse a two-point deficit. Ash drilled his only basket, a three-pointer from the top of the key, during the run. He scored eight points in the first half to power the Chargers to a 23-20 lead at the break.
Senior forward Paul Turner scored seven of his 11 points in the first half to complement Ash. St. Ignatius controlled the tempo and mandated the game be played in the halfcourt. St. Joseph never flinched, shooting 10-17 in the first half from the field.
Ash stayed hot in the third quarter. He opened the second half scoring with a three-pointer fro the left wing. He also converted a three-point play and recorded a steal for a drive and dunk that provided the Chargers’ largest lead, 35-28.
“We wanted to speed the game up,” Ash said. “Those times we were able to do that, we were able to push the ball or force turnovers and score off of them.”
Senior forward Connor Cronin allowed the Wolfpack (15-9, 7-3) to hover. He converted four three-pointers in scoring a team-best 16 points. His final basket, a three-pointer, at the start of the fourth quarter pulled the Wolfpack within four points (35-31).
Turner responded with a corner jump shot and a driving layup. Sophomore Joffery Brown scored twice on breakaway layups in the closing seconds after the Wolfpack were forced to pressure. “They shot well and they played very good defense,” Kehoe said.
“We had to chase them a lot without ever having a lead in the second half and that can start to weigh on you [emotionally],” he said.
Senior guard Bill Langhenry added nine points for the Wolfpack. Junior Aaron Allen scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers won their third straight game. The teams could meet again the Class 3A Nazareth Sectional. “It’s good to have experienced their stye and learn how to win against it,” St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore said.
“We haven’t had a full roster really the whole season, and losing Jordan for a month there hurt us, but we’re starting to put it together,” he said. Sophomore Glynn Watson and senior A.J. Patty contributed six points apiece for the Chargers.