Jake Meeske never played quarterback or even football in high school.
But the St. Ambrose sophomore basketball player, and United Township graduate, did his best impression of throwing deep for the Bees on Saturday afternoon against Saint Francis (Ill.) at Lee Lohman Arena.
Meeske used pin-point long passes down the floor to help the Bees get some easy baskets during a key offensive run in the second half of an eventual 83-70 win over the Fighting Saints in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference action.
Meeske recorded five of his team-high seven assists in a key 12-minute stretch that saw the Bees (7-7 overall, 3-4 CCAC) blow open a one-point halftime lead into a 71-54 advantage with 7 minutes, 29 seconds left in the contest.
Three of those assists came on almost full-court heaves that helped teammates Blake Buls, John Kerr and Allen Warren convert easy layups.
"My teammates are always looking to get out and run, and so they knowing it is coming," Meeske said of his long-distance assists. "Coach (Ray Shovlain) preaches that we need to get our guys down the floor as fast as we can and have the guards look up. My guys were out running today, and all I had to do was find them. I always like to find them down the floor."
Meeske was not the only one finding his teammates in key spots. Fellow guards Lee Hardrick (five assists) and Dylan Kaczmarek (six assists) also had some nifty finds as the Bees racked up 34 points in the first 13 minutes of the second half to expand what was just a 37-36 edge at halftime.
St. Ambrose shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, and as a team had 21 assists on 34 made field goals for the game. Kerr led the hosts with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Hardrick (13 points), Kaczmarek (12 points) and Buls (10 points) all reached double figures.
"(Shovlain) had some really good timeouts in the second half to help settle us down, and we started to run the offense better and were in the flow of the game more," Meeske said of the second-half outburst. "We knew what we were doing, and we were just playing off each other and having fun."
The hot shooting and sharing of the basketball helped offset the 26 turnovers the Bees committed in the contest, including 15 in the first half. This allowed the Fighting Saints (4-8, 2-3) to stay close at halftime.
Meeske said the defensive pressure from St. Francis forced the Bees to play a little too fast at times. Meeske did have five turnovers himself. He added that is why Ambrose had to take its time in the second half and get better looks.
"We had not had a game in a week so we just had to settle in," Meeske said. "We did that better in the second half."
Ambrose is now off until Jan. 4 when it returns to action at home against Hannibal-LaGrange for a non-conference contest. Both Meeske and Shovlain said it was a big win as the Bees won two in a row heading into break after suffering through a five-game losing streak.
"Pretty solid win for us. We just have to make sure we are getting better and better," Shovlain said. "We just got a lot smarter looks in the second half so we're pretty pleased with that."