Varan Vasant of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy drives past Suring defender John Christensen on his way for a basket in the lane during their game in Marinette on Tuesday. EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Varan Vasant of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy drives past Suring defender John Christensen on his way for a basket in the lane during their game in Marinette on Tuesday. EagleHerald/Billy Betts
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MARINETTE - The last time St. Thomas Aquinas Academy defeated the Suring boys' basketball team was Jan. 27, 2009, by the score of 47-38.

That Cavalier team was led by Tyler Price and Kevin Betts, a fearsome duo at the time.

On Tuesday, the duo of Jameson Bardowski and Kiefer Powers, backed up with the best defensive effort coach Ric Powers has seen in years, beat the Eagles 64-38 in front of a packed gym.

"That's the best effort on defensive this group has ever given," Powers said. "We communicated well, hustled the entire game and put a lot of pressure on Suring."

Both teams came out like gangbusters in the first quarter as STAA took a 17-14 lead. Bardowski and Powers hit three triples in the quarter and Suring added three of its own.

The Cavaliers' pressure defense took over in the second.

After Mark Runge cut it to 17-16, Bardowski nailed a 15-footer and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to force an Eagle timeout at the six-minute mark.

Out of the timeout, Mike Schmidt stole an Eagle pass and drained a triple which was followed by another steal and a Schmidt lay-up on a second-chance shot to put STAA up 27-16.

Tyler Fisher ended the run on a basket inside, but the Cavaliers finished the quarter on a 8-5 run to take a 35-21 halftime lead.

"STAA came out and played really aggressive," Suring coach Jim Keefe said. "We weren't ready for that right away and it was tough to adjust to."

The Cavaliers found themselves in a bit of a funk to start the third quarter.

Fisher and Dillon Kempen made two shots inside early in the half to cut the lead to 35-25.

After two turnovers in three possessions, Casey Boyle jump-started the Cavalier offense after missing a shot, grabbing the rebound and making a shot inside.

With the score at 39-29 with three minutes left in the third quarter, Bardowski sank a 15-footer, stole a pass and fed Powers for a layup to extend the lead to 43-29.

STAA upped its lead to 47-31 with 10.5 seconds left in the quarter and coasted the rest of the way behind good rebounding and great defense.

"We got into a bit of a lull in the third quarter like we have in the past," Powers said. "I was pleased to see us snap out of it the way we did and control the game."

Bardowski led the Cavaliers (2-0 overall, 1-0 in the M&O Conference) with 22 points and five steals. Powers finished with 19 points and five steals, Varan Vasant had 10 points and Schmidt added nine.

For Suring (2-1 overall, 0-1 in the M&O), Kempen led the way with 14 points, Fisher had 13 and Runge added eight.

"I give a lot of credit to STAA for playing the way they did tonight," Keefe said. "We didn't execute the way we should have on both sides of the ball. This is a group that can't afford to make mistakes and we made too many tonight."

STAA won the junior varsity game 55-28. Sam Hart had 14 points and both Eric Powers and Austin Zorn added 12.

"This is the first step in the process of a long season," Powers said. "We're not just satisfied with how we played tonight. This is a group that has been pushed hard and they've really come together. We didn't play our best basketball, but we'll come back to work tomorrow and prepare for a tough game in Wausaukee on Friday."

STAA (64) - Schmidt 9, Beranek 0, J. Bardowski 22, Powers 19, Harvey 0, Vasant 10, B. Bardowski 0, Carlson 0, Boyle 4, Brumm 0, Paul 0; FGs: 24; FTs: 8-12

SURING (38) - Mahoney 0, Christensen 0, Fisher 13, Runge 8, Geniesse 0, Kempen 14, VanBellinger 3, Vollmer 0; FGs: 15; FTs: 4-8

STAA 17 18 12 17 - 64
Suring 14 7 12 5 - 38