MERRILL — Difficulty at the free-throw line made the final score closer than St. Mary's coach Rick Jackson would have preferred, but his Crusaders nevertheless prevailed, 45-39, over Lost River in Southern Cascade League boys basketball Thursday.

MERRILL — Difficulty at the free-throw line made the final score closer than St. Mary's coach Rick Jackson would have preferred, but his Crusaders nevertheless prevailed, 45-39, over Lost River in Southern Cascade League boys basketball Thursday.

St. Mary's (11-6, 5-1 SCL) made only 5 of 14 free throws in the second half — 5 of 9 in the fourth quarter — and allowed Lost River to get within 39-37 with six minutes to go.

"We made it exciting because we couldn't hit our free throws coming down the stretch," said Jackson. "That kept them around."

Max O'Sullivan scored 18 points, and 6-foot-2 sophomore post Lou Gambee had 10 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. Mary's. Andrew Larson added nine points and six rebounds.

Gambee tallied seven of the team's nine points in the fourth.

"He made a couple of really nice post moves to get us a little separation," said Jackson.

O'Sullivan scored seven of his points in the third, then turned up the defensive heat in the fourth against Raiders star Cort Cox. Cox had 17 points, including two deep 3-pointers in the third quarter, but went scoreless in the fourth.

ST. MARY'S (45) — O'Sullivan 18, O'Boyle 0, Street 0, Larson 9, Boggess 0, Grant 3, Gambee 10, Watson 0, Gross 0, Tomlinson 5. Totals: 16-11-23 45.

LOST RIVER (39) — Cox 17, Cazarez 0, Noland 7, Grantom 0, Perry 0, Hernandez 11, Haskins 0, Carleton 4, Zavala 0. Totals: 16 4-7 39.

St. Mary's 7 16 13 9 — 45

Lost River 12 4 16 7 — 39

3-point goals — St. Mary's 2 (O'Sullivan 1, Grant 1), Lost River 3 (Cox 3). Fouled out — Boggess, Haskins.

JV score —St. Mary's 50, Lost River 24.

ST. MARY'S 60, LOST RIVER 42 — At Merrill, St. Mary's got strong play from its young post players and remained unbeaten in the Southern Cascade League with the win.

The fifth-ranked Crusaders are 6-0 in league and 16-2 overall.

Sophomore Veronica Valdez, only 5-foot-5, and freshman Kylee Adderson played pivotal roles in the pivot. Valdez had 14 points and nine rebounds, Adderson had seven points and 11 boards and both helped contain Lost River's top player, Courtney Rieger, who scored 12 points.

Nikki Steinsiek scored 12 for St. Mary's.

ST. MARY'S (60) — D. Valdez 5, Steinsiek 12, Street 3, K. Adderson 7, Volk 0, Williams 0, Bates 5, Gross 4, V. Valdez 14, Picknell 0, W. Adderson 4. Totals: 19 19-28 60.

LOST RIVER (42) — McCulley 7, Barajas 5, Hammers 4, Condon 3, Bailey 0, Rieger 12, Burch 6, Stillinger 5, Gresser 0, Bailey 0. Totals: 14 14-31 42.

St. Mary's 12 18 15 15 — 60

Lost River 4 7 16 15 — 42

3-point goals — St. Mary's 3 (Steinsiek 2, D. Valdez 1), Lost River 2 (McCulley 1, Barajas 1). Fouled out — Gross. Technical fouls — St. Mary's coach Pflug.

JV result — St. Mary's won.