Santiago's Breakout Game Helps Hawks End Losing Streak
Sophomore scores 26 points in win over St. Francis on Tuesday.
A hard fall in the third quarter slowed Greenfield sophomore guard Ricky Santiago down some, but by then, the damage had already been done.
Santiago, a 5-foot, 10-inch point guard, scored a varsity career-high 26 points with eight steals and four assists as the Hustlin' Hawks defeated the visiting St. Francis Mariners, 71-52, Tuesday.
The second-year varsity starter got off to a blazing start. He made his first six shots and scored his team's first 15 points as Greenfield built a 19-14 lead. He knocked down three jumpers, a floater and two layups and managed three steals in the quarter.
"When I came out, I was already confident because my shot was going down," Santiago said. "My teammates were passing it real well and I got open looks off the plays. "
The sophomore slowed down in the second quarter with just two points but still managed three assists and two steals.
With 5 minutes, 16 seconds to go in the third, he was fouled while going up for a layup and came down hard on his chin. He did not return until the start of the fourth quarter.
"I hit the ground real hard," said Santiago, who was headed to the hospital for stitches after the game. "I've had stitches here before so it immediately opened."
When he returned, he scored his final seven points and added two more steals while wearing a large bandage on his chin.
Santiago finished 9-of-16 from the field and 8-of-8 on free throws.
"He hadn't had a breakout game yet and I told him today's your day," Greenfield coach Ed Mermolia said. "In practice I gave him more of a leadership role. I said, 'You're our point guard. You're the general. We go with you and we die with you as well.' He stepped up to the challenge today. I was impressed; I've never seen him play like that."
Greenfield's Reggie Blakely chipped in 14 points and Austin Jacobson added 10.
The win snapped Greenfield's eight-game overall losing streak. The Hawks improved to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the Woodland Conference in Mermolia's second game as interim head coach.
"It's awesome," Mermolia said. "We worked hard the last two weeks preparing for today's game. Words can't describe it. It's just elation. For us, it's been kind of a long season, but we've been working hard all year. With what's been happening, the transition in coaches, these boys didn't give up."
St. Francis fell to 0-9 overall and has lost 42 consecutive games.