Mallory's strong play off bench helps Parkway South edge Edwardsville
By Greg Uptain | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com
LADUE — Parkway South boys basketball coach Phil McGuire was effusive in his praise for junior forward Joe Mallory’s play Monday afternoon.
Mallory came off the bench to score a career-best eight points and the 12th-seeded Patriots needed every one of them in a 60-57 win over No. 5 seed Edwardsville in a Don Maurer Holiday Invitational first-round game Monday afternoon at MICDS’ McDonnell Gymnasium.
“I thought Joe Mallory off the bench gave us some great minutes,” McGuire said. “Without Joe today … man, oh man, he really answered the bell.”
South (8-2) is on the winner’s side of the Maurer Invitational bracket for the first time since 2018. The Patriots will take on Francis Howell (5-3) in a quarterfinal contest at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“I think a lot of people were thinking we might lose this game, so it was good to come out here and get a big win tonight,” Mallory said. “I think it’ll be really fun, so I hope we come out focused tomorrow.”
Playing in the holiday tourney at MICDS for the first time, Edwardsville (6-6) will play Clayton (4-4) in a consolation quarterfinal at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“We’re not down on our guys. We just think mentally we’ve got to be a little sharper if we’re gonna be competitive against teams that are 8-2 and have some good players that can hurt you,” Tigers coach Dustin Battas said. “So we’ll just regroup and try to keep competing in this good tournament. We’re really excited to be here. We play different teams and different styles and that’s the whole point of the tournament to learn about your team.”
South’s four scorers who came in averaging double-figure scoring did just that again Monday with Evan Renz (14), Demonte Hurt (13), Eddie Ahearn (13) and Jaylen Calloway (12) accounting for 52 of the Patriots’ 60 points.
But it was the unexpected offensive contribution from Mallory that helped push the Patriots over the top. Mallory scored just two points in limited action last season and came in with just 13 total points in nine games this season with two separate game-highs of four points.
He matched those four points by the end of the first quarter Monday and doubled it by the time halftime rolled around.
“I think I played pretty good,” Mallory said. “There’s always some room for improvement, but I think I did what I could.”
Mallory was held scoreless in the second half, but made a couple of slick passes that led to South baskets and was an all-around effective force on the court.
“Joe might have the best court vision of anyone on our team the way he sees the floor,” McGuire said. “And he’s really starting to become a leader by example where he’s encouraging guys and the first guy to give a high-five.”
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair with the lead changing hands five times before South settled in with an 18-15 lead after eight minutes. Mallory and Ahearn then each scored four points in the second quarter as the Patriots built a seven-point halftime lead at 30-23.
A bucket by Calloway with 90 seconds left in the third quarter gave South its biggest lead of the game at 46-34. At that point, Edwardsville’s leading scorers Malik Allen (14.3 points per game) and AJ Tillman (11.3) had been held to a combined 12 points.
“Loved it,” McGuire said of the defensive effort on the pair. “(Allen) is one of the best 3-point shooters I’ve ever seen in high school basketball. As I told their coach. I watched so much film on them the last couple days, my wife accused Edwardsville of ruining my Christmas.”
But Allen drained a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in the third and the Tigers tallied the first four points of the fourth quarter to make it a five-point game.
The Patriots kept the Tigers at arm’s length most of the final period with the lead never dipping below five points until Alec Marchetto’s triple with 12.7 seconds left cut it to three.
South missed a pair of free throws with 4.6 ticks left to open the door for one final chance for Edwardsville, as Allen launched a shot from 30 feet out that rimmed in and out to keep the game from going to overtime.
Allen finished with 16 points and Tillman added nine points for the Tigers.
“Shooting makes everything go better if you can make them,” Battas said. “That gave us a chance. We thought we tried hard, but we just weren’t quite mentally sharp defensively.”
South won a total of eight games the last two seasons (two in 2020-21 and six last season) but has already equaled that total before the calendar flips this season.
“We won eight games the last two years and our kids are just sick and tired of it,” McGuire said. “They are understanding that winning is fun and they’re starting to realize we’re gonna do what it takes to run through that wall to get things done. It feels great to win, but you don’t want to get too complacent because I don’t want to become the nail ever again.”