Eagles rally past Saegertown

Youngsville’s Ethan Kesterholt (2) ties up Saegertown’s Eli Draa during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game at Youngsville High School. Kesterholt made a number of key plays down the stretch for the Eagles, including a free throw with 2.7 seconds remaining that iced the game for the Eagles.

Already down a starter, Youngsville had to withstand a 3-point shooting onslaught by Saegertown in the first half of Friday’s Region 3 battle.

They did that, locked down defensively in the second half and made key plays when they had to in a 51-47 comeback win over Saegertown.

“We earned this one,” said Youngsville coach Jesse DeLoof. “They made us earn it. The guys that we said, let them make shots, they made shots in the first half.”

Indeed they did, as Saegertown’s Logan Ingram, who came into the game averaging 5.3 ppg., went off, drilling five of the Panthers’ eight first-half triples, staking them to a 30-23 lead.

Youngsville’s Gage Hendrickson kept the Eagles within striking distance, with four 3’s of his own in the first 16 minutes on his way to a 24-point effort.

Youngsville senior Nyko Mercado fires a pass to a teammate.

The second half was a different story.

Eagles’ sophomore point guard Joe Mack, who was held scoreless in the first half, took over in the third quarter, scoring 9 points, as Youngsville (9-11 overall, 3-8 Region 3) took its first lead of the game, 34-33 on a putback by Timber Bower.

Youngsville outscored Saegertown (8-12, 3-8) 15-3 in the third quarter and never trailed again.

“Joe has started every game for us. He’s been our point guard since Day 1,” noted DeLoof. “He consistently shows up every day. Same thing with Gage. We ask so much of both of them. Joe’s developing his game. You saw him hit the 3, that’s not a coincidence. He works on that, and it pays dividends.”

Mack scored every which way in the third – a runner in the lane, the 3 that DeLoof alluded to, as well as a putback.

Joe Mack locks in on Saegertown’s Raef Rhoades

“He’s a spark for us offensively,” DeLoof said. “He can get to the basket. He played with a lot of heart.”

Saegertown scored the first five points of the first quarter, including a jumper from Eli Draa that got them within 1, but Nyko Mercado, Youngsville’s lone senior who was honored before the game, made a layup off a great feed in transition from Ethan Kesterholt to give the Eagles some distance once again.

“I thought we were much more comfortable in the second half in terms of, if you’re open, shoot,” DeLoof said. “All our guys have the green light, they know what their shots are. I thought we did that in the second half. That was the difference in the second half.”

Three’s from Draa and Max Fuller, Saegertown’s top two scorers, kept them close, but the Eagles were clutch down the stretch.

Hendrickson, Mack and Kesterholt all made critical free throws down the stretch, going 8-for-10 in the final three minutes to secure the win.

Gage Hendrickson fights through Saegertown defenders to put up a shot.

“We are a good foul shooting team,” DeLoof said. “You have to get it in the hands of your best shooters late in games and we did that.”

Fuller, Saegertown’s leading scorer, erupted for 22 points in the first meeting, a Saegertown win, but was limited to 10 in this one, while Draa, the No. 2 scorer, was held to 8.

“That was all EK and Austin (Peterson),” DeLoof said. “They were on their top two guys. Xavier (Mowrey) did a great job too. EK and Austin, it was their job to hold down their top two guys and they did that.”

Brady Olewine was sick and missed the game, but the Eagles were still able to gut it out.

And afterward, their coach informed them that they were heading to the playoffs.

“I told them, you guys are 100 percent a playoff team, and that’s why we’re going to the playoffs,” DeLoof said. “We have two more big games. We need to be playing our best basketball going into the playoffs. And I think we are.”

Youngsville, which hosts Union today (1 p.m. JV, varsity to follow) was also a winner in the JV game, 49-37. Dominic Dell had 15 points, Mowrey 14 and Owen Procter 13.

– – –

SAEGERTOWN (47)

Rhoades 3-0-0-9, Fuller 4-0-0-10, Sherry 3-0-1-6, Ingram 5-0-0-15, Draa 3-0-0-8, Johnson 0-0-0-0, Wilkins 0-0-0-0, Hayes 0-0-0-0, Totals 18-0-1-47

YOUNGSVILLE (51)

Kesterholt 1-1-2-4, Mack 4-2-4-11, Hendrickson 6-8-8-24, Bower 1-0-0-2, Mercado 1-5-10-7, Peterson 1-0-0-2, Dell 0-1-2-1, Mowrey 0-0-0-0, Totals 14-17-26-51

By Quarters

Saegertown 21 9 3 14 – 47

Three-point FGs: Saegertown (11) – Ingram 5, Rhoades 3, Fuller 2, Draa; Youngsville (6) – Hendrickson 4, Kesterholt, Mack

– – –

JV: Youngsville 49, Saegertown 37

Youngsville: Dell 6-3-6-15, Kesterholt 2-0-0-5, Mowrey 5-1-1-14, Crane 0-0-0-0, Procter 4-5-7-13, Upton 0-0-0-0, Hogg 0-1-3-1, Baes 0-0-1-0, Totals 17-10-18-49

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