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St. Joseph upsets ranked St. Anthony, 81-73

By aalvarado
Feb. 18, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.

Players and coaches leap off the bench in excitement after sophomore guard Luke Wenske hit a halfcourt buzzer-beating shot at the end of the third quarter against San Antonio St. Anthony on Saturday.

Players and coaches leap off the bench in excitement after sophomore guard Luke Wenske hit a halfcourt buzzer-beating shot at the end of the third quarter against San Antonio St. Anthony on Saturday.

The San Antonio St. Anthony Yellowjackets came into Saturday's TAPPS Class 5A area playoff game with a state ranking and St. Joseph's number.

However, it was the Flyers who were the aggressors and they erased the sting of a pair of earlier losses to the Yellowjackets this season.

The front-court duo of Dean Vanek and Patrick Sohrt combined for 26 points, and Cody Janak added 15 off the bench to help the Flyers beat No. 22 St. Anthony 81-73 at the St. Joseph gym.

"It's been a time since we've had a win the playoffs," sophomore Janak said. "I'm excited, we have two more years of this."

St. Joseph won its first basketball playoff game since 2003.

"We've never won a playoff game in I don't know how long," Vanek said. "We all clicked, we all came together and this is by far the best game I and we as a team have ever played."

Flyers shooting guard Luke Wenske added a team high 17 points to help the Flyers improve to 24-11 on the season.

St. Joseph plays Houston St. Thomas, a 47-46 winner over Fort Worth Nolan in the regional playoffs on a neutral court.

Earlier this season, St. Anthony (22-13) beat St. Joseph 53-44 and 58-35 in consecutive games played on Dec. 21 and Jan. 3.

The Flyers had the advantage under the basket and they used it on Saturday.

St. Joseph outscored St. Anthony 31-6 in the paint and used a 24-8 first half rebounding edge to build a 34-25 halftime lead.

"Most teams don't have that size and we have that size advantage against other teams," Sohrt said.

Although St. Anthony scored the first four points of the game, a Vanek basket down low sparked a 13-2 St. Joseph run that gave it a 17-8 advantage less than two minutes into the second quarter.

"We played them before, we were familiar with them and we wanted to be the aggressor and that's what we were," said St. Joseph coach Abraham Garcia. "That's how we wanted to start the game and we did a good job at it."

Janek scored eight points in the second quarter. The post was averaging eight points per game for the season.

"He has so much energy when he comes off the bench," Garcia said. "He plays with so much passion, it's fun to watch him play."

St. Anthony's precision from 3-point range kept it within striking distance.

The Yellowjackets made 13-of-35 shots from beyond the arc and the Flyers couldn't build a lead larger than nine points in the third quarter.

"They're a great shooting team and we had to D up and make sure they didn't get second-chance shots," Vanek said.

St. Anthony was in reach of a road playoff win when Janak fouled Brian Denson with 2:02 remaining.

The foul was Janak's fifth and Denson had a chance to cut into the three-point lead.

Instead, the Yellowjckets post missed both free throws and a Sohrt bucket in the paint was followed by the last of a trio of Jerry Vasquez' three-pointers that put St. Joseph ahead 75-68 with 43.7 seconds remaining.

Kion Wells and Christian Wenske added four late free throws for the Flyers.

"It's hard to beat a team three times and we really stepped it up this game," Janak said.

St. Anthony guard Jacob Fernandez scored a game-high 29 points.

Last year, the Flyers lost in the area playoffs to Dallas Bishop Lynch in Garcia's first year as coach.

The 2010-11 season was a turnaround for a St. Joseph program that won just five games the year before.

Vanek said the experience from last year helped the Flyers understand what the playoffs are about.

"We felt the intensity last year," Vanek said. "We took that over to this year with the experience and knowing how loud it would be and how exciting it would be."



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