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St. Paul puts it all together to beat Dufur


ST. PAUL — St. Paul has played in several close games versus strong teams this season, but hasn’t been able to close any of them out.

That was the case again Friday night versus Casco League co-leader Country Christian, as the Cougars escaped with a 32-29 victory to sweep the season series.

However, the dam finally burst Monday, as the Bucks knocked off visiting Dufur 45-41.

“It was probably our best effort of the year and they put it all together,” head coach Mike Murphy said. “We were down late, didn’t let that get to them, and responded. We stayed with what we were doing and made our free throws down the stretch.”

St. Paul opened the week with a 42-22 win over Falls City, getting 10 points from Sara Pierson and a solid defensive performance.

The defense improved Friday versus Country Christian, but as has been the case this season, the Bucks struggled offensively.

St. Paul took a 27-20 lead into the fourth quarter and withstood a Cougar rally to hold a one-point lead with 35 seconds to play. Unfortunately, Country Christian nailed a shot to seize the lead, then stopped the Bucks at the other end. St. Paul was forced to foul and the Cougars sank both free throws to ice the game.

“We just couldn’t convert down the stretch,” Murphy said. “That was the difference.”

St. Paul and Dufur combined to score just 27 total points in the first half of Monday’s contest, but things warmed up in the second half.

The Bucks trailed 29-24 entering the fourth, but exploded for 21 points in the final quarter.

“We’ve been trying to get the kids to shoot the ball, especially from the perimeter,” Murphy said. “When they’re open, they turn down a lot of shots that we really need them to take. (Monday) they finally started taking those shots and they started to go in.”

Sara Pierson led the effort with 20 points. Remy Brentano added eight points, including six in the fourth quarter.

“The kids finished a game, which was really nice to see,” Murphy said. “It was our best overall offensive night of the year. The kids really needed it and hopefully that will kind of propel them down the stretch.”