Dzurenda and McKnight lead St. Joseph past Staples

Although St. Joseph was never really able to pull away from Staples on Tuesday, the two-time defending state champs  did enough on the offensive end to improve to 13-1 on the season.

St. Joseph's Jonathan Dzurenda (5) is defended Monsignor Farrell's Damian Murphy during Northeast Christmas Classic basketball tournament at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, on Thursday December 27, 2012.

Junior guard Jonathan Dzurenda led the way, scoring 26 points in the Cadets’ 62-59 win over Staples. Quincy McKnight added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Cadets.

St. Joseph has now gone seven games since its lone loss — 67-46 to Wilton on Jan. 4 — and Dzurenda said that the lessons the Cadets took from that game helped them on Tuesday. The Cadets struggled mightily in the loss to the Warriors, scoring just two points against the zone defense in the fourth quarter.

St. Joseph saw a similiar type of defense from Staples, and flourished. The Cadets’ backcourt accounted for all but 10 of their points on Tuesday. The Cadets also were able to limit the Wreckers’ offense.

Senior guard Peter Rankowitz scored 16 points for Staples, while James Frusciante had 14.

“They play kind of like Wilton,” Dzurenda said of Staples. “We knew they could shoot. We just tried to know who the shooters were, know our spots.”

St. Joseph first-year head coach Chris Watts was pleased to see his team respond.

“Any time you can learn from a loss, then it’s pretty valuable,” Watts said. “For them to say we learned from Wilton and we came here and were able to build and be strong, then that’s a plus.”