Lafayette junior guard Adam Flynn and the Lancers knew that top ten power Francis Howell would be a bruising test for them.
The Lancers had their hands full with Howell for the first half but a 6-2 third quarter surge jump-started the Lancers offense and host Lafayette rolled to a 74-54 victory over Francis Howell on Friday night.
It was a confidence-building performance for a young Lafayette club that was looking to show their mettle against the experienced Vikings.
“They (Francis Howell) are a very good team that likes to push the pace up the court and the slower pace of the first, I thought worked to our advantage,” Lafayette coach Scott Allen said. “Our kids battled and they are physical and we were able to get some run outs in the second half.”
Howell, which fell to 4-2 on the season was solid from the floor early as Zack Reader and Brett Elifritz scored in the first quarter to give the Vikings a good start in the first quarter.
After Clayton Ambrose knocked down a jumper to tie it at 22-22 with 3:02 left in the second quarter, the Lancers Trey Griffey responded with a jumper. Will Stonecipher added a bucket and Griffey drilled another jumper to cap a 6-2 Lancers run giving Lafayette a 28-22 lead at the half.
The lead grew to 10 for the Lancers in the third quarter and it looked like Lafayette (3-2) would breeze away.
But Howell did not go away in the fourth quarter.
Reader dropped in a layup to cut the lead to 45-40 with 6:26 left. Reader paced the Vikings with 15 points.
Flinn responded by canning a pair of free throws and then grabbed a steal, fed Kory Brubaker for a back-door basket for a 48-40 lead and the Lancers never looked back.
Flinn led Lafayette with 15 points while Luke Finley scored 13 and Stonecipher added 12 points.
“They were being physical and we had to fight them back,” Flinn said. “The momentum changed, we started playing more defense and getting more steals and we were able to push the ball.”
For Francis Howell, it was a pretty forgettable night of basketball. The Vikings had been averaging better than 70 points per game but the Lancers defense made Howell’s big-time scorers invisibile.
Elifritz was held to just 9 points and Logan Bush finished with just 8 points.
“Lafayette outplayed us, they just made shots and we didn’t,” Francis Howell coach Kurt Jacob said. “They knocked down free-throws and just beat us. We didn’t play very well.”
The game left the Lancers with a good vibe heading into the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament at Meramec Community College on Dec. 27 against De Smet Jesuit.
Francis Howell returns to action on Wednesday with a first round game against Brentwood in the MICDS Holiday Tournament.