When St. Joseph forward Erick Langston converted a 3-point play seven seconds into his team's game against visiting Staples, the Cadets student section serenaded the opposition with chants of "it's all over."
Given the way the rest of the contest went, that moment served as the spark for a blowout that seemed to be over after the opening bucket.
Jon Dzurenda scored 22 points and Arkel Ager-Lamar added 13 points and six assists as St. Joseph stayed alive in the FCIAC playoff race with a 78-53 win over Staples on Tuesday. With the victory, the Cadets (7-8, 6-7 FCIAC) jumped into a six-way tie for the final playoff spot.
"We were able to penetrate some seams and get some help," Cadets coach Chris Watts said. "And when the help came, we were able to see our shooters. We've got two shooters in Dzurenda and (Raekwon) Reed, and I always tell my guys to shoot the ball. They were good shots, shots in rhythm and that was big tonight."
The Cadets controlled the game from the onset, building a 24-10 lead after one quarter of play. St. Joseph worked the ball inside to Langston (nine points) as well as kicking it out to the shooting tandem of Reed -- nine points on three 3-pointers -- and Dzurenda.
Staples (3-13, 2-12) tried to get back in the game in the second period. The Wreckers tightened up their defense and closed the deficit to nine points on a triple from David Katz, who led all scorers with 25 points.
"(St. Joseph) got on a big run in the first quarter, and I think it was hard to recover from that," Wreckers coach Colin Devine said. "We fought back hard in the second quarter, but I thought they shot the ball pretty well from the outside."
Ager-Lamar took over as St. Joseph put the game away in the third quarter. The Cadets went on a 21-8 run highlighted by two dunks by Ager-Lamar in addition to a pair of nifty assists.
"They are completely different team with (Ager-Lamar) on the floor," Devine said. "He's a great scoring presence, but he makes them longer on both ends of the floor as well."
Ager-Lamar now has seven varsity games under his belt after transferring from Ohio, and is quickly improving with every performance.
"His ceiling is high," Watts said. "I think he has a little ways to go, but he's going to be an excellent player. He dominates sometimes on the floor, but he has a lot of room to get better. People are seeing just a little bit of what they are going to see."
Staples lost for the 11th time in 12 games.
"I think we have a great group of seniors that are hard workers," Devine said. "I think we've had some bumps in the road, but we are going to keep fighting until the last game."