The fourth day of January, St. Maries’ boys basketball team dropped its second consecutive game in a 70-77 loss to Prairie.

But more than its second loss this side of the New Year, that game served as a benchmark for the Lumberjacks, who have not allowed a team to reach 60 points since then.

Just twice since the loss that put his team at 5-3, Coach Bryan Chase’s squad has allowed more than 50 points.

The past 11 games, which have served as a good portion of the second half of the season, St. Maries has seen its defensive averages plummet, in a good way.

Following their loss to Prairie, the Lumberjacks were allowing nearly 55 points per game. That number has dropped to 39 points allowed in their last 11 games, St. Maries winning nine of those.

“I think the kids have really bought in to playing defense,” Coach Chase commented. “They are starting to understand that staying in this program means they have to play defense.”

Monday marks the start of St. Maries’ district tournament, when it will face the winner of Grangeville and Orofino in a best-of-three series running Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, if necessary.

“I think Grangeville has a whole lot of potential, and could be really dangerous,” Coach Chase said. “But even Orofino, they were much improved the last time we played them. The biggest thing now is just valuing every possession. You get to districts and state and it could come down to one play, one free throw.”

St. Maries held Genesee to 13 points in the first half Feb. 15 as it took a decisive 56-32 victory. Brett Stancil pocketed four steals and put up 12 points in the win.

St. Maries 56, Genesee 32

SM 18 12 18 8 56

GEN 6 7 17 2 32

Stancil 12 pts., 4 st.; Gibson 14 pts., 4 as.; Gentry 13 pts.; Renner 6 pts.; Ross 4 pts., 4 as.; Becktel 3 pts.; Elliott 2 pts.

The Jacks capped a perfect CIL record Feb. 14 at Orofino, and closed the game on a 16-2 run as they defeated the Maniacs 58-26.

St. Maries 58, Orofino 26

SM 13 16 13 16 58

OHS 4 10 12 2 26

Becktel 14 pts.; Ross 10 pts.; Stancil 10 pts.; Gibson 4 pts.; Ledbetter 2 pts.

Upcoming: St. Maries traveled to Wallace Feb. 18 in a final regular season game. The Lumberjacks will face the winner of Grangeville and Orofino Monday at Troy High School. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s (if necessary) games are each at 6 p.m.

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