BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. -- Despite the absence of one player and a key injury to another, Blair Academy got big contributions from a pair of seniors to turn back St. Benedict's, 67-59 on Saturday night at Blair.
What made the Buccaneers' victory so impressive is that they won without super versatile 6-8 small forward/guard Luol Deng, and played much of the second half without 6-9 junior forward Charlie Villanueva.
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Senior off guard Ben Kenyon (pictured right) and senior forward Michael McGinley spearheaded the Blair attack, scoring 24 and 17 points, respectively.
McGinley made the big shots to help the Bucs pull away late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing much of the contest, St. Benedict's forged a 54-54 tie when junior point guard Bashir Mason knocked down one of two free throws with 3:16 to play.
McGinley hit a jumper from the free throw line and one from just behind the three point arc on the Bucs' next two possessions, giving Blair a 59-54 lead with 2:33 to play.
After a Mason basket pulled the Gray Bees to within three points, Kenyon knocked down a pull up jumper with 1:52 left to push the lead back to five.
In the final minute, the Bucs were able to salt the game away from the free throw line, as point guard Jason Haas canned six of six attempts.
"Kenyon and McGinley made big shots for us in the second half," said Blair Head Coach Joe Mantegna. "Early in the season, McGinley had been deferring to others, and we've been trying to get him to be more aggressive. He was certainly more aggressive today."
Kenyon carried Blair in the first half, scoring 16 of the Bucs' 28 points as they established a 28-22 halftime lead.
In the second half, it was McGinley who shouldered the load, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the game's final 16 minutes.
Blair led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter. In fact, Villanueva knocked down a three pointer to give the Bucs a a 33-23 lead with 6:48 left in the third.
Moments later, Villanueva landed awkwardly on his ankle while trying to help out on the offensive glass.
The Gray Bees were able to chip away at the deficit, until pulling even just past the midway point of the fourth quarter.
After a sluggish first half, Artie Bowers rebounded to lead St. Benedict's with 16 points, mostly on forays to the basket. Mason added 14 points and James Mathis 10 in defeat.
Surprisingly, the Gray Bees' big men struggled to score inside even though Blair was missing Deng for the whole game and Villanueva for most of the second half.
The Bucs also did an excellent job on the offensive glass despite playing with a smaller lineup than St. Bendict's.
With the win, Blair improved to 7-4. St. Benedict's fell to 9-5 with the loss.