St. Pius’ perfect record in region play

St. Pius X Catholic High School’s boys’ basketball team beat Lithonia High School 48-44 in Lithonia Feb. 9.

The loss marked Lithonia’s (12-3, 8-2) first loss since Jan. 9; St. Pius (21-2, 13-0) extended its perfect region record with its win over Lithonia.

St. Pius Head Coach Aaron Parr said, “every time [St. Pius and Lithonia] play, it’s a high-level game,” and that Feb. 9 matchup continued the tradition.

“The only loser tonight was the fans, because they couldn’t be here,” said Parr. “When two great programs play and they’re getting after it like that, and if there wasn’t COVID, this place would have been packed.”

Parr also described the win as a game of runs, referring to several stretches of the game that were dominated by his team and other stretches dominated by Lithonia.

After a back-and-forth first seven and a half minutes of play, St. Pius senior guard Brookes Kahlert rebounded his own miss and scored a putback and-one to beat the first quarter’s buzzer.

St. Pius carried Kahlert’s buzzer shot and the resulting four-point lead into 17-4 run that ran through the entire second quarter. Lithonia trailed St. Pius 25-11 at halftime, but Lithonia junior guard Chase Champion sparked a 9-1 run for the Bulldogs in the third quarter.

Raheem Swain led Lithonia in scoring with 17 points. Photos by Jay Phillips

“We got up big, but I told my guys at halftime that I know Lithonia’s program really well. They have such great pride, and they have a lot of fight. So, I knew Lithonia would make a run,” said Parr. “It was a heck of a job by Lithonia to fight through adversity in the first half.”

Lithonia came back to tie St. Pius at 32-32 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. Lithonia senior guard Raheem Swain scored 16 points in the second half to keep Lithonia in striking distance, but St. Pius had an answer for each Lithonia basket.

Kahlert scored 10 of St. Pius’ 14 fourth quarter points, and helped the Golden Lions escape with a win.

“I thought our guys, in the fourth quarter, responded well to [Lithonia’s] run,” said Parr. “It was a game of runs. Us in the beginning, Lithonia in the middle and us again at the end.”

Parr said the game was good experience for two teams with postseason aspirations, and the win highlighted a few areas his team needs to improve in before the state tournament.

“I told our guys this is a state tournament type of game in terms of competitiveness,” said Parr. ““We have to do a better job of responding to adversity. We kind of looked like we were upset about it instead of picking our heads up and moving to the next play.”

Swain led Lithonia in scoring with 17 points, and Champion added nine points for Lithonia. Kahlert led all scorers with 20 points, and Trey Acklin scored 17 for St. Pius.

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