NEOGA -- Effingham St. Anthony led the entire game, but Neoga stayed within striking distance for most of Tuesday's National Trail Conference game. The Indians trailed just 49-44 after Mitchell Cornell made five straight points, including three consecutive free throws with 4:37 left in the game. The Bulldogs pulled away with a 9-2 run over the next 2:19 as Jake Hoene had five and Bryson Wall had four during the run. St. Anthony went on to win 63-51 and improved to 12-6 overall and 5-0 in the NTC.
The Bulldogs led by 13 on two separate occasions in the third quarter, including 45-32 after a three-pointer by Hoene against Neoga's zone defense. Neoga's Trevor Roy kept the Indians close as he scored 15 of the teams 19 points in the third and Neoga trailed 48-39. The quarter ended with a layup by Roy.
Roy and Johnson finished with 17 points each to lead the Indians, who fell to 8-7 overall and 1-3 in the NTC.
"Our game plan to was to stop Jacob Dust (6-7 junior) and I think we did that," said Neoga coach Andrew Snow. "Their guards kept attacking. Their guards beat us by their penetration. We went to our zone which I thought was very effective until late. when we had to go man when they pulled the ball out."
The taller St. Anthony team out rebounded Neoga 47-28 with Dust leading the Bulldogs with 10 rebounds.
"Everyone of those guys are six inches taller. They are just big," said Snow. "Those guards can get shots whenever they want them. They run that ball screen offense and they can attack the middle. That is a good team."
The Bulldogs finished with balanced scoring as Hoene had 13, Luke Ludwig had 12, Aaron Webb had 11 and Dust was almost in double digits, finishing with eight points.
St. Anthony scored the first 10 points of the game before Neoga's Reece Johnson got the Indians on the board with at three-pointer at the 4;50 mark. The Bulldogs seemed to have their way in the opening quarter leading 21-9 thanks to 7-of-16 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 free throws.
Neoga coach Andrew Snow switched form a man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone and it slowed the Bulldogs down.
"We really didn't practice the zone that much," said Snow. "I didn't think we could zone them because of all of their shooters. The players committed to the zone and boxed out well out of it and rotated well out of it. I was proud of them for adjusting and being able to play that zone."
St. Anthony, coached by Cody Rincker, a Stewardson-Strasburg grad, was 21-of-34 (.618) from the free throw line to help them in the win.
Johnson kept the Indians in the game with his hot shooting as he scored the first 12 points before Chase Banning drilled a three-pointer with 4:50 left in the half making the score 23-15 in favor of the Bulldogs.
"He (Johnson) is a big-time player," said Snow. "I knew he was going to have a big-time game."
Johnson missed his first two shots of the game before sinking six straight in the rest of the half. Johnson had 15 points at the half. Roy was six-of-seven in the third quarter.
St. Anthony led 29-20 at the half as Webb made a three-pointer at the break.
Neoga entered on a three-game winning streak.
Neoga is to travel to Cumberland Friday for a non-conference game.
"We love these kind of games," said Snow. "Monday was our best practice all year. We have to have that type of practice going into Cumberland."