Posted On: 03/7/18 1:00 PM

St. Mary’s and Vashon renewed acquaintances again on Tuesday night at Parkway West in the Class 4 state sectionals. It was a rematch of last year’s classic overtime game in which Vashon prevailed and went on to win its second consecutive state championship.

After having its season ended by Vashon the past three years, the Dragons turned the tables by taking an impressive 83-70 victory to advance to Saturday’s state quarterfinals against Sikeston.

Here are five takeaways from the St. Mary’s-Vashon game:

Experience Matters

The difference in Tuesday night’s game was experience. St. Mary’s is loaded with seniors who are four-year varsity players, plus a stellar three-year starter in Yuri Collins at point guard. By contrast, Vashon is very talented, but also very young and that experience and maturity factor played out as St. Mary’s controlled the game from start to finish. The Dragons handled Vashon’s pressure, made all of the big shots and never let the younger Wolverines gain any positive momentum or make a big run at any time of the game. For the past three years, St. Mary’s was the younger team trying to defeat the older, more experienced Vashon team. This year, the tables were turned.


Point guard play matters

Class of 2019 point guard Yuri Collins of St. Mary’s controlled the game with his scoring and passing. The 5’11” Collins scored 19 points and dropped 11 dimes as he sliced through the Wolverines defense and fed open teammates throughout the evening. He constantly kept the machine moving in a half-court offense and he got his usual batch of transition opportunities, where he is an excellent finisher at the rim. Collins has already received Division I offers from the likes of Saint Louis, Mizzou and SIUE. Look for more to come in the future.


St. Mary’s has multiple playmakers

To handle a team such as Vashon, which can come at you with waves of athletes and quick guards with its pressure, it helps to have more than one guard who can handle the ball and make decisions. St. Mary’s has one of the best in the state in Yuri Collins, but he also got plenty of help from fellow 2018 guards Donavanne Austin, Lavel Harris along with versatile wings Tony Burks and Dominic Mitchell.  Their ability to bring the ball up and make plays allowed Collins to rest at times and not have to fight the pressure all by himself and wear out, which is what happened in last year’s overtime loss to Vashon. They were able to keep the ball moving, which created high percentage shots throughout the evening. The benefit of many of those high percentage shots was the 6’2″ Burks, who scored a game-high 23 points, and 6’6″ 2018 forward Yahuza Rasas, who scored 15 points.


Vashon will be back

Although there will be no repeat for Vashon in 2018, do not feel sorry for the Wolverines. They are loaded with young talent and they will be back with a vengeance in the future. If you were going to beat Vashon, this was the year to do it while they were still young. Virtually, the entire nucleus will be back and leading the pack next year will be dynamic 2o19 guard Mario McKinney, a Division I prospect along with 2020 Division I prospects in 6’6″ Cam’Ron Fletcher and 6’6″ Kobe Clark and athletic 2019 guard Donyae McCaskill. Look for the Wolverines to play a national schedule next season.


The Gauntlet Continues

Last year’s Vashon-St. Mary’s game was considered the state championship game, although it was just in the sectional round. They were clearly the two best teams in the state. This year, St. Mary’s took a giant step towards winning its first ever state championship, but the road is still full of formidable road blocks. The first will be Sikeston in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Bulldogs are loaded and hoping to make a return to the Final Four, which they accomplished in 2016. Should the the Dragons advance, there is a potential Final Four matchup with Grandview, out of Kansas City, which is also loaded with talented and athleticism and experience. This should be most interesting.

(Tony Burks photo courtesy of Wiley Price of the St. Louis American)