Ralph St. Fleur (above, in Jan.) scored 18 points as Dock made its first-ever PIAA state tournament quarterfinal. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Stephen Miller (@stevemiller078)
BETHLEHEM –– Before players exited the Dock Mennonite Academy locker room, their chant poured through the door.
The Pioneers earned the chance to shout with one of the biggest wins in program history Wednesday. The District 1 champions used a 20-point fourth quarter to pull away for a 56-43 win over District 2 champion Holy Cross in a PIAA Class 2A second-round boys basketball game at Liberty High School.
The win moved Dock (24-5) into the state quarterfinals for the first time. Its next foe is the team it chanted for, District 12 power and defending 2A state champion Math, Civics and Sciences.
Pioneers senior point guard Ralph Saint-Fleur has an idea of what awaits him and his teammates Saturday. Math, Civics and Sciences whipped Dock 92-38 when the teams played in a PIAA 2A second-round game in 2018, Saint-Fleur’s sophomore season. The Mighty Elephants have steamrolled their first two state opponents this season, winning by 42 and 54 points.
That Dock will compete as one of the last eight Class 2A teams in the state was reason enough to celebrate Wednesday.
“It’s very fulfilling,” Saint-Fleur said after scoring six of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter. “Since last year, we got cut short in the semifinals of districts and didn’t even make it to states, being here is a great experience. That was our goal right after we won district semifinals [this year].
“Winning the first two rounds of states had never been done before, so doing that is amazing, especially my senior year.”
Holy Cross presented a stiff challenge for Dock. The Crusaders had reached the state quarterfinals each of the past two seasons and lost just two games all season before Wednesday. Down 10 points twice in the third quarter, they closed within 36-33 before the fourth period began.
Dock’s defense and athleticism allowed it to separate. The Pioneers ended the game with a 13-4 run and surrendered only one field goal over the final 5 minutes.
Saint-Fleur scored four points and dished out two assists during Dock’s closing kick. He finished with five assists and two steals to go with his 18 points.
Holy Cross also struggled with the size and bulk of Darius Ellis. Dock’s 6-foot-6 senior pivot had five points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter.
Ellis finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
“They played a box-and-one on Darius early in the game,” Dock coach Mike Fergus said. “It was obvious their goal was to kind of neutralize him, and they did a decent job of that. But our defense was stifling. Even though we didn’t score as much in the first half as we normally do, we were able to keep them to 19 points.
“The second half, they went back to man-to-man at some point. When they did that, we were able to score a little bit.”
Dock also outscored Holy Cross 15-3 from 3-point range. Junior wing Steve Martin hit three of Dock’s triples and finished with 15 points.
Foul trouble prevented the Pioneers from playing as much full-court pressure defense as they would have liked. Nothing could stop them from a win that had them chanting into the night.
“Having the opportunity to go against [MCS] again is really nice,” Saint-Fleur said. “This year, we’ve been waiting for this game. Everybody’s on the same page. Going against them again is something we always wanted.”
Dock: 13 | 12 | 11 | 20 | 56
Holy Cross: 14 | 5 | 14 | 10 | 43
Dock: Saint-Fleur 18, Martin 15, Ellis 12, Jainlett 4, Wilder 3, Kuhn 2, Derstine 2
Holy Cross: Burrier 18, O’Connor 12, Bennie 6, Calciano 4, Callejas 2, Osborne 1
Math Civics & Sciences 80, Wyalusing 26
Dock Mennonite 56, Holy Cross 43
Constitution 79, Executive Education 76
North Star 72, Bloomsburg 57
Our Lady Sacred Heart 84, Portage Area 56
Farrell 51, Ridgeway 33
Sto-Rox 75, Lakeview 51
Bishop Guilfoyle 66, Clairon 47
Neumann-Goretti 87, Holy Redeemer 49
HS of the Future 75, Panther Valley 51
Loyalsock 66, Camp Hill 65
Trinity 70, Riverside 34
Richland 68, South Allegheny 58
North Catholic 68, Aliquippa 62
Lincoln Park 66, Brookville 46
Beaver Falls 78, Carlynton 63
Methacton 83, Lincoln 55
Roman Catholic 62, Pennridge 51
Chester 63, Simon Gratz 62
Reading 67, Freedom 65
McDowell 68, Central York 61
Butler 77, Upper St. Clair 73
Wilson vs. Lower Merion (3/12)
Cheltenham vs. Mt. Lebanon (3/12)