FORESTVILLE — In their quest to finish the season on a strong note heading into the upcoming Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs, the St. Mary’s Ryken High School boys basketball team has continued to display improvement even in defeat.

Tuesday evening at Bishop McNamara High School, St. Mary’s Ryken scored the first 10 points of the game and later scored the last 10 points of the third quarter. But the Knights were unable to hold onto a slim lead the latter stages of the fourth quarter and eventually suffered a 75-69 setback in overtime.

“We had a good start to the game and then we finished the third quarter really good,” St. Mary’s Ryken head coach Walter Booth said. “Getting off to a 10-0 start was really good. Our guys fought hard the whole game. This is a young team playing in a tough league. But that’s what you want for these guys.”

McNamara head coach Keith Veney had cautioned his players before the game not to look past St. Mary’s Ryken and avoid peeking ahead to Friday’s clash with perennial WCAC power DeMatha. But the Mustangs appeared to emerge from the blocks in tardy fashion and did not own their first lead of the game until early in the third quarter.

“This is a young team and sometimes they’re going to look ahead a little,” Veney said. “We tried to remind the kids that they couldn’t look past these guys. We finished the fourth quarter on a good note and then we pulled away in the overtime. But Ryken came here ready to play. Their [Devin Ceaser] is an excellent player. I love watching that kid play.”

Ceaser led St. Mary’s Ryken (6-21, 1-17 WCAC) with 22 points in a losing cause in which the Knights had two starters, Kenneth McKoy and Vladan Malavrazic, foul out in the fourth quarter.

McNamara (18-8, 9-7) owned a distinct advantage at the free-throw line, connecting on 16 of 27 attempts from the charity stripe, while the visitors were 4 of 8 for the whole game. The Mustangs were whistled for only six fouls during the contest.

“Losing Kenneth and Vladan in the fourth quarter really hurt,” Booth said. “We lost both in the last four minutes.”

St. Mary’s Ryken got a pair of three-point field goals from Ceaser in the opening two minutes of play to get out to the 10-0 lead.

McNamara rallied to get within 19-15 at the end of the first quarter and got to within a single point in the second quarter, but the Knights still owned a 32-29 lead heading into the intermission.

McNamara finally forged their first lead of the game early in the third quarter on a bucket inside from sophomore Onosedeba Aire (game-high 23 points) and the Mustangs eventually led by as many as six points midway through the period. But the Knights ended the quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 53-47 lead, capped by a three-point field goal from Wisdom Rogers.

St. Mary’s Ryken led by as many as eight points in the fourth, but McNamara chipped away and tied the game at 64 on a conventional three-point play from senior Kenneth Womack with 12.3 seconds remaining.

Rogers scored the first bucket of the overtime for the Knights, but the Mustangs outscored the visitors 11-3 over the remainder.

Twitter: @tblacksomds1

Twitter: @tblacksomds1