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Sacred Heart's Kevin Gamble (34) puts the ball up over Marcus Herring of the International Academy of Flint at Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Gamble scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Irish's 65-61 loss. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

Basketball - Boys

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: International Academy of Flint spoils Sacred Heart's home opener

Sacred Heart's Dustin Neyer (1) drives to the basket against the International Academy of Flint on his way to the basket at Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Neyer scored 11 points in the Irish's 65-61 loss. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

Sacred Heart's Brooks Hyble (10) tries to go up for a shot against the International Academy of Flint at Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Hyble scored eight points and pulled down 14 boards in the Irish's 65-61 loss. (Photo by Skip Traynor)

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Behind a game-high 34 points from Simeun McGee, the International Academy of Flint boys basketball team came in and played spoiler in Sacred Heart Academy's home opener Tuesday evening, claiming 65-61 road win.

Despite holding a lead for much of the opening half, the Irish would succumb to McGee and the Phoenix in the third quarter.

“They came out strong in the third quarter and got ahead by eight, so that’s a challenge. We spent a lot of time just trying to battle back. I think we did a heck of a job to take a lead with two and a half minutes to go, but that’s a good basketball team we played,” said Sacred Heart head coach Pat Theisen. “We’ve got to learn that in tight games we have to take good care of the basketball and take good shots. When we take those one or two-point leads, we’ve got to come back and make a stop. It’s just a learning process at this point, but it was a good game for us and we’ll go from there.”

Trailing 49-47 at the start of the fourth quarter, SHA took its first lead (51-49) since the second quarter on a putback by Kevin Gamble with 7:03 remaining in the contest. The Irish and Phoenix (1-0) went back and forth over the next six minutes until McGee took over the game. The senior would score five of IAF’s final seven points, including what would prove to be the eventual game-winning layup with 1:19 left to give the Phoenix a 60-59 edge.

Gamble had a fine performance in the loss, scoring a team-high 23 points and 12 rebounds. Like a year ago, the senior will be a go-to threat on the offensive end and on the glass.

“He’s excellent. He’s by far a very talented player and I think he could be the best player around, which is evident by his numbers tonight,” Theisen said. “His athleticism is second to none for being 6-foot-6, so we expect nights like tonight out of him. It was good to start him off strong and hopefully get some momentum going into Thursday and Saturday.”

After a back-and-forth opening six minutes, the Irish (0-1) ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run, capped off by Cole Younger’s layup and make at the line. SHA would carry a 17-9 lead into the second quarter but watched as its lead evaporated in the opening minutes of the second stanza as the Phoenix went on an 8-2 run, capped off by a pair of makes at the line by McGee with 4:50 remaining before the half.

The two sides would trade baskets over the next four and a half minutes as the game went into the locker rooms deadlocked at 31.

The third quarter proved to be the difference maker Tuesday as the Phoenix opened the second half on a 7-0 run, with a dunk by Shala Woods adding the exclamation point to the surge. The Irish would rally behind Gamble, whose layup with 44 seconds remaining made it a two-point game.

Brooks Hyble also tallied eight points and 14 rebounds for the Irish, while Dustin Neyer had 11 points.

SHA is back on the court Thursday when it travels to Ashley to open the Mid-State Activities Conference season. The Irish also host Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes Saturday evening as part of a doubleheader with the girls.

Last Updated: 12/10/2013 10:20:22 PM EST