Flyers hold back Bulldogs rally
St. Joseph post Cody Janak felt the pressure come from behind him and like many high school basketball players in the area, the 6-foot-4 junior fell down when he felt a shove.
Unfortunately, the grab from behind came from Yoakum senior guard Blake McCracken, one of the shortest Bulldogs at 5 feet, 3 inches tall.
"We'll make fun of him for awhile," said Flyers junior guard Luke Wenske with a smile. "We'll get him."
A win leads to good-natured ribbing, especially when a team hangs on for a victory.
Wenske scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and Janak added eight rebounds to help St. Joseph (3-1) hold back Yoakum (1-2), 62-52, on Tuesday.
"Whenever he grabbed me, I didn't know what was happening so I ended up falling," Janak said. "I didn't mean to, but I did."
Janak added 14 points and Yoakum shooting guard Joe Mireles led the Bulldogs with 17 points, including five 3-pointers.
The Bulldogs were playing their first game of the season after their first full practice.
"We're still trying to put the pieces together to find out who's going to go where," said Yoakum coach Joe Mireles, the guard's father.
A Jerry Vasquez 3-pointer capped a 25-8 Flyers run to begin the game before Yoakum found its form and made it a game in the third quarter.
After cutting the St. Joseph lead to 13-points at halftime, the younger Mireles hit a trio of shots from beyond-the-arc to cut the St. Joseph lead to 39-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
Flyers head coach Abraham Garcia said most of Mireles' three-pointers were contested, but they still found the net.
"When you hit a streak like that, it's something that you can do," Garcia said. "Shooters can do that."
Added Janak: "He had a really good shot, he was making a lot of 3's. That hurt us.."
After Yoakum guard Timmy Blakeney hit a three to cut the lead to 42-39, Wenske took over the final frame.
A completed three-point play sparked a run where Wenske scored 10 of the next 14 Flyers points to help St. Joseph build a seven-point lead with 1:33 remaining.
"When we needed someone to take over the game or really take over and put the ball in the hole, he's the guy that will do that," Garcia said.
After Wenske scored his final two points of the game, he stole a Yoakum pass to clinch the game with 17 seconds remaining.
Wenske also led the team with six assists and four steals.
"You know every time you step against this St. Joseph team, you're going to get a heck of a fight," said the Yoakum coach.
TJ Hights and Blakeney combined to score 23 points for the Bulldogs.
It was apparent early on that the Flyers would have the advantage inside with Janak and 6-foot-5 center Aaron Kovar to start the game.
But, it was reserve post Adam Konarik who made Yoakum pay in the first half.
With the Bulldogs denying the two starting post the ball a good deal of the first half, Konarik led the team with eight points in the first half as St. Joseph took a 32-17 halftime lead.
"They did a good job of ball pressuring to make it tough to throw the ball inside," Garcia said.
St. Joseph out rebounded Yoakum 28-20 with 24 of those coming on the defensive end.
The Bulldogs countered St. Joseph's size with their athleticism and getting easy baskets.
The Bulldogs scored 12 fast break points and forced 14 turnovers.