COUNCIL BLUFFS — The St. Albert boys basketball team almost dug itself into an inescapable hole Thursday against Shenandoah.
The Falcons faced a 14-point deficit with 3:30 left in the third quarter before closing the period on a 16-3 run to pull within 49-48.
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, Shenandoah had a chance to win the game, holding for the final shot with 8.1 seconds left. But Jake Cerven's 3 was off the mark, forcing overtime.
From there, it was all St. Albert. The Falcons outscored the Mustangs 17-6 in the extra period, closing overtime on a 10-3 run to claim an 80-69 comeback victory.
The win improves the Falcons to 7-6 overall and 3-4 in Hawkeye-10 play. For the first time this season, St. Albert is above the .500 mark. Shenandoah drops to 8-5 and 2-4.
Defensive tenacity played a major role in Thursday's outcome. The Falcons pressed Shenandoah often down the stretch, leading to 13 Mustang turnovers after halftime.
The Falcons were in dire need of that kind of spark. They made only 8 of 25 first-half field goals, including just 2 of 13 from 3-point range, in falling behind 34-23 at the half.
"At halftime, we talked about getting into our defensive pressure," St. Albert coach Dale Scott said. "The other thing we talked about is that we were going to have better legs at the end of this game. I really thought our conditioning was a big part of that win."
It helped that St. Albert senior Travis Miller found his offense in the second half. He managed just four first-half points before erupting for 24 more after halftime to finish with a game-high 28.
A pair of Matt Fagan free throws gave the Falcons their first lead of the game at 50-49 with 6:38 left in regulation. From there, the quarter featured two ties and six lead changes before Shenandoah had the ball with just more than a minute left. But the Mustangs couldn't score before the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime.