This is a “challenge game” between teams that lost their first two games of the event. Ballard is taking Berkmar out of Georgia’s place as that left early due to flu issues for several team members.
Ballard came out of the gate strong, especially Maker Bar. He knocked down a three to open the game and scored four of Ballard’s next six points. Meanwhile, St. John’s was struggling, only managing one free throw from Christian Watson. The score was 9-1 with just over two minutes gone in the first quarter. Watson scored on a drive for St. John’s but Gabe Sisk of Ballard scored on a drive and Miles Franklin drained a jumper to give them a 13-3 lead. Ballard would keep an eight to ten-point advantage for the remainder of the period until St. John’s Watson knocked down a three before the horn to make the score 21-14.
St. John’s got on a bit of roll to start the second period. Back to back threes got them to within one at 21-20 before a minute had passed. Ballard hit a free throw, but Raymond Watts hit a floater in the lane to tie the game at 22-22. Ballard was able to keep St. John’s from taking a lead and with the score tied at 26-26 with 2:45 left to play in the half, Sisk of Ballard hit a three and Keno Hayden scored on the break to give Ballard a five point lead. St. John’s hit a long two, but a three from Chaunte Marero extended Ballard’s lead to six at 34-28. The team’s traded baskets but DaJuan Riggs of St. John’s scored inside before the horn to make the score at the half 36-32 in favor of Ballard.
The third quarter remained close…for a while. St. John’s continue to battle uphill but finally tied the score at 42-42 with just over five minutes to play on a three from Watson. St. John’s then grabbed their first lead of the game on a three point play from Donovan Freeman. From there, Ballard closed out the third quarter on a 17-0 run with Sisk, Hayden, and Marrero being the primary culprits. With one quarter left to play, Ballard now had total command of the game, up 59-45.
Ballard extended their lead to as many as eighteen early in the final quarter. St. John’s did their best to mount a comeback, getting as close as eleven, 69-58, with 2:33 left. However, they would get no closer and Ballard would win by eleven, 77-66.
Ballard was led by Bar with 22 points while Sisk had 20 and Hayden added 16 points.
St. John’s got 23 from Watson and 16 points from Malik Mack.