The Yellow Jackets (9-4) only drained four 3-pointers, when they average about seven 3s a game, and they were an uncharacteristic 4-for-22 from beyond the arc and 32 percent from the field. What also hurt Sprayberry was shooting 25 percent (6-of-24) from the field in the first half.
Armel Potter struggled from behind the 3-point line, going 0-for-5 in the second half, but he still led the Yellow Jackets with 25 points. Nkem Ojeh was also in double figures with 12.
“We knew we were going to have to hit some jumpers,” Sprayberry coach Marc Carver said. “We normally hit six to seven 3s a game, and (Saturday), we made four. They outshot us.”
Still, Sprayberry had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter.
The score was knotted at 50-all with less than 3 minutes to play when the Yellow Jackets ran their half-court offense. Looking for an open lane, they chewed off clock passing the ball before it got into the hands of a St. Pius player. The Golden Lions (10-1) made them pay with a Ben Tuttle layup to go ahead 52-50.
That turned out to be the game-winning bucket for St. Pius as Sprayberry was unable to get the lead back.
“We ran our spread offense, which is our bread and butter, but we turned the ball over, unfortunately,” Carver said. “Then, when you play from behind, that changes things.”
Things got worse for Sprayberry when it turned the ball over on its next possession, and a 3-pointer by Will Maguire from the right wing put St. Pius ahead by five with 1:04 left.
The Yellow Jackets did come close to sending the game into overtime.
After Ojeh converted a three-point play with 46 seconds left to play, Sprayberry was forced to foul, and the Golden Lions pushed their lead to five points. But Maurion Skrine hit a jumper to get Sprayberry within three points with 2 seconds to play and got a quick steal with 1.5 left.
Skrine’s steal prompted Sprayberry to call timeout to set up a potential game-tying 3-pointer, but the clock expired before the Yellow Jackets got the shot off.
Nick Harris led St. Pius with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Golden Lions ended the first half on a 6-0 run, capped by a Will Horton 3 at the buzzer.
Sprayberry opened the second half with seven unanswered points, with an Ojeh 3-pointer before Skrine and Potter followed up with field goals.
The run spotted Sprayberry a 32-31 lead, but the Yellow Jackets trailed by five going into the fourth quarter after going 2-for-11 from the field the remainder of the third quarter.