Late spurt lifts Calvert past Mansfield St. Peter’s

Pat Durham’s analysis was correct, but it didn’t quite go far enough.

“It was one of those nights where it was a game of spurts,” Mansfield St. Peter’s veteran coach said. “They just had the last spurt, unfortunately.”

In truth, Calvert had two last spurts. They were also the longest spurts and, ultimately, the best ones.

That proved to be an unbeatable combination and the reason the Senecas, beaten five straight times coming in, got back on the right side with a 62-57 rally past the Spartans Saturday night.

St. Peter, which has dropped three straight games in falling to 5-4, played the full four quarters. It just seemed like three.

The Spartans appeared to have it all together when David Hall (10 points, nine rebounds) hit a couple inside hoops and sub Andrew Stein added a layup and a 3-pointer for an 18-11 lead.

They then went scoreless for the final 5:46 of the half as Calvert came back for a 25-18 advantage.

“We’ve had that happen to us before, a team getting a big run on us,” Calvert coach Ted Willman said after his club improved to 3-5. “But there have been times when we couldn’t recover from it. This time, we answered.”

Drew Ritzler scored six and fed Mike Bennett for a layup to spark the 14-0 finish that included three points from Marcus Bennett and a 3-point goal from Connor Behm.

None of that seemed to matter in the third quarter, when the Spartan press sparked a reversal of fortune.

Ritzler’s 3-pointer gave Calvert its biggest edge at 32-22. But St. Peter countered with a 23-5 run over the final 5:37 of the quarter for a 45-37 lead heading into the stretch run.

“Our defensive intensity picked up and we got a little crisper in handling the ball,” Durham said. “We were able to get the ball inside a little better and we were getting a little more out of our press. It was a man-to-man, but sometimes they double up on somebody on their own and it worked for us.”

Joseph Rall scored all 10 of his points in the period, Richard Shaw added six of his 10-point total and Michael Berick’s buzzer-beating putback was part of a five-point effort.

“That seemed big at the time and all it was was effort on (Berick’s) part and a mental lapse on our part,” Willman said. “I remember telling the guys, let’s hope we can make a run and that one thing, an effort thing, doesn’t come back to bite us in the end.”

All it took was a little perfection. Calvert hit all nine of its field goal attempts in the fourth quarter and went 7 for 9 from the foul line.

It began with two baskets each from Somers (11 points, five rebounds) and Austin Perry (six points, four boards). Ritzler had an assist and Michael Smith had a couple, including one off a steal.

Willman was especially excited about that turn.

“We slowed ourselves down a little in the fourth quarter and our guards and posts did a good job – probably their best job all year – of executing the offense,” Willman said. “Our problem has been our guards would look at something and then they’d be a second late in getting it to our big people where they needed to get it.

“Tonight, they were that second ahead that they needed to be and Marcus finished and then Austin Perry finished,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been looking for.”

Just as big was the way Bennett finished his team-leading 21-point, eight-rebound night.

Bennett had a baseline drive and two more down the lane as the Senecas pulled to within three at 54-51 with 3:09 to go. After Hall missed the front of a one-and-one, Perry had a power post score and then Bennett turned a steal into a drive for a three-point play to put Calvert on top for good at 56-54 with 1:02 to go.

Adam Blunk’s 3-pointer with seven seconds left was the Spartans’ only score in the final 3:15. That span of futility, coupled with the end-of-the-half blanking, amounted to going a full quarter without scoring.

“I expected a tough game up here and you have to credit them because they battled back and did what they had to do to win it,” Durham said.

“I’m happy for our guys because they’ve been working hard and it was so good to see them execute and finish on those things they’re working so hard to do,” Willman said. “Progress is our most important product right now.”

Even if it comes in spurts.