The first four minutes of Saturday’s third-place game against St. Pius at the Potosi Tournament looked bleak for Sullivan.
After a sloppy night against St. James in the semifinals, where the Eagles played in foul trouble from the opening tip, missed opportunities at the free throw line and struggled to build a sustained rhythm on offense, it all seemed to be coming back against the Lancers.
But Chris Erxleben’s basket with time expiring in the first half to give Sullivan their first lead sent a jolt in the team’s fortunes, helping the Eagles to a 65-54 win.
The victory capped off what turned out to be a solid week for the Eagles, who collected their first pair of wins.
And the Eagles (2-2) are expecting Justin Biermann back this week, which will only bolster the squad as they head into a busy three weeks.
The second half against St. Pius was all Sullivan, as they beat back a Lancers team that took No. 1 seed Cape Central down to the wire in the semifinals.
Seth Mesey led Sullivan with 21 points, including a dominating second half. Mesey fouled against North County and St. James. He was charged with two quick fouls against St. Pius, but he played around it to give the Eagles a big performance.
Sullivan fell behind 10-1 in the early going. Mesey and JC Beckett each had two fouls less than four minutes in, forcing Eagles head coach Dino McKinney to play short-handed.
St. Pius held a 14-4 lead late in the quarter, but baskets by Adam Weiland and Erxleben chipped the Sullivan deficit down to six.
Seth Koch’s three-point play followed, pushing the Lancers’ lead back to nine.
Mesey scored the final bucket of the period and Sullivan trailed 17-10.
St. Pius led 20-12 before the Eagles began making their comeback run.
A three-point play by Adam Weiland, then a 3-pointer by JC Beckett got the Eagles within one, 21-20.
Isaiah Hennessey hit a 3-pointer to give St. Pius a 28-23 lead, but it would not last long. Sullivan ended the half on a 6-0 run.
Erxleben scored the final four points of the half. After giving Sullivan the lead to start the third quarter, the Eagles never conceded it.