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ST. CHARLES • The De Smet boys basketball team has developed a sense of confidence through the first few games of the season.

With a more experienced group back this year, the Spartans hope that continues.

De Smet took another step in the right direction Saturday afternoon by claiming a 47-31 win over Rock Bridge in the Public-Private Showcase at Duchesne High.

“Last year, we were figuring out how to compete with teams,” Spartans senior Rick Hill said. “Now, we’re figuring out how to win.”

De Smet (4-1) has been successful in that department so far. 

Through five games, the Spartans' lone defeat was a 84-74 loss to Kickapoo, ranked second in Class 5 by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.

“We’re 4-1, so you can’t complain,” De Smet junior Ryan Stipanovich said. “We want that one loss back, but it’s been a good start.”

Stipanovich scored a game-high 14 points, while Hill added 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Spartans. Dillon Gilkey and Colin Riesmeyer both finished with nine points for De Smet, which was 15-of-41 from the field and 15-of-20 from the free-throw line.

But it was De Smet’s defense, which forced 17 turnovers, that impressed the Spartans the most.

“I thought our zone was very effective,” Stipanovich said. “They’re a fast team, so we tried to slow it down. We got some steals in transition and shot the ball well.”

Rock Bridge (3-1) was 12-of-37 from the field, 1-of-10 from behind the arc and 6-of-8 from the charity stripe. Six of the Bruins’ field goals came in the first quarter when they held a 12-9 lead.

But that’s when De Smet started to make its run. The Spartans outscored the Bruins 15-6 in the second quarter and never relinquished the lead after that. 

“I think the key for us was just being able to keep our composure,” De Smet coach Kevin Poelker said. “They really slowed the tempo of the game down and forced us to kind of manage ourselves. I thought our guys did a good job of just playing the game that was in front of them and not forcing the action.”

Rock Bridge trailed 24-18 at the break, but managed to get within four midway through the third quarter.

That’s as close as the Bruins would get.

“Shooting was not very good, turnovers weren’t very good,” Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. “It was just a bad game. We’re better than that. I wish we could have shown it, but they played better.”

The Bruins made it interesting by going on an 8-3 run to pull within five with 6 minutes, 40 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. But De Smet responded with a 9-0 surge that was capped with a fast-break dunk by Stipanovich to give the Spartans a 44-30 lead with 46 seconds remaining.

Eysan Wiley finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead Rock Bridge, which was 1-of-11 from the field in the fourth quarter.

“We had a good first quarter, but those other three just stunk,” Scanlon said. “You don’t win many games with 31 points. That’s embarrassing.”

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