ST. MARTIN-- Harrison Central held Stacee St. Julian to just one point in the first half.
However, the senior St. Martin guard came alive in the second half to score 26 points, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 68-52 win over Harrison Central Wednesday in the first round of the Class state basketball playoffs.
With the win, seventh-ranked St. Martin (21-9) advances to Saturday's second round at top-ranked Meridan (24-4). St. Martin finished with a perfect 13-0 record at home.
"At this point of the season, you survive and advance or you pack and go home," said St. Martin coach Charlie Pavlus. "We had to fight to make sure we weren't packing our jerseys tomorrow for next year."
Both teams came out in the box-and-one. Harrison Central (16-14) trying to stop St. Julian; St. Martin trying to stop Biscuit Floyd. In the first half, the Red Rebels were better with their box-and-one, holding St. Julian to a free throw.Floyd scored seven to help Harrison Central stake a 26-22 lead at the break.
St. Julian said the Red Rebels box frustrated him in the first half.
"They played really tight defense," he said, adding that he was often faced with two or three Rebel defenders each time he touched the ball. "It was difficult for me to adjust to their defense."
However, in the second half, a strategic decision to move St. Julian to the middle helped freed him up. Also, Daetran Bivens got hot in the third quarter, draining three treys to take pressure off St. Julian. Palvus' speech at the half reminded his players their season would be over if they lost. That motivated the Yellow Jackets.
"I was getting better passes in the middle," St. Julian said. "That freed me up. I had a lot of help from my teammates."
With St. Julian's freedom restored, the senior scored 11 points in the third quarter and 15 in the fourth quarter to lead St. Martin's second-half charge. St. Julian's second-half totaled matched the team output for Harrison Central over the last 16 minutes of play.
"We had a good game plan," said Harrison Central coach Boo Hardy. "We held St. Julian to just one point in the first half and took a four-point lead. However, we did not come out with the same intensity in the third quarter. St. Julian is an excellent player and excellent players step up their play at the end of games."
Johnnelius Anderson scored six and Bivens connected on a trey as the Yellow Jackets opened a 14-8 lead after the first quarter. However, Perkins and Floyd each scored five points as Harrison Central went on an 18-8 run over the second quarter to go up by four at halftime.
St. Julian led all scorers with 27 points. He also added eight rebounds and six assists. Bivens finished with 15 points, all on 3-pointers. Jalen Lett rounded out a trio of Jackets in double figures with 12 points. Anderson finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. Da'Quan Gaudin did not score, but was strong on the boards with seven rebounds.
Perkins topped the Red Rebels' scoring with 13 points. Floyd and Rajon Blackston each scored 11 points.