By Trent Friedel, exclusive to the Times
Saint Mary’s Lady Tiger basketball team entered post-season play with a first round bye and the number six seed. The regional action had Saint Mary’s hosting #11 Hanson Memorial who beat Hamilton Christian 66 – 29 to make it to the second round. The victor would advance to quarter final action. Saint Mary’s finished the regular season with an 18 – 10 record, but played some of their best ball when it counted the most.
Hanson Memorial Lady Tigers finished their regular season on a three-game losing skid, but one of those contests was against the #1 seed Lafayette Christian. Maria Bienvenu got tip duties for the home Tigers and Saint Mary’s had the ball first. The Hanson Lady Tigers employed a 2 – 3 zone against St. Mary’s.
Bienvenu got the opportunity to score first for St. Mary’s, but it came at the free throw line. She was successful and the Lady Tigers drew first blood in this contest of Tigers. Saint Mary’s exerted their power with smothering man-to-man defense and were lightening fast in transition. #30 Foulcard got the first points for Hanson but less than 3 minutes remained in the first quarter and SMH leads 8 – 2. With less than a minute, Saint Mary’s stretched the lead to 12 – 5 as #4 Hidalgo sinks a three ball for Hanson to end the quarter.
The home Lady Tigers opened the second quarter on a 6-zero run against Hanson. St. Mary’s was stifling on defense and forced turnovers often. Hanson Memorial wasn’t deterred and got things closer with some lane penetration and scoring and the score tightened to 12 – 9 in favor of St. Mary’s. Pellerin, #3, and the Hanson point guard nailed a three making the count 17 – 12.
Emily Maggio was fouled in the low post by #33 Colley making the first half of a one-and-one as SMH is in the bonus. Maggio scored again on an assist from Ragan Hale as the zone collapsed on her. McKinzie Lipa scored a three and the Saint Mary’s Lady Tigers take a 27 – 14 half-time lead as they start to pull away. Coach Collins takes a time out leading 34 – 20 with almost half of the third quarter gone.
SMH comes out of the break slowing things down and running a deliberate offense. Hale got a rebound and the ball was passed to Bienvenu for the easy layup. The high post offense results in points for SMH and before you know it there are only 10 seconds on the clock. Carissa Kautz got the last second shot to go as she bounces in a jumper off the glass to end the third. The St. Mary’s lead grew to 39 – 23 after three.
The opening play of the final period is a repeat of previous plays with the ball passed in to Bienvenu who makes the easy layup. Saint Mary’s pulled out to a 20-point lead at this point, 45 – 25, with half of the final period gone. Some younger Tigers enter the game for St. Mary’s and the lead remained close to or at 20 points for the duration.
Final count, 51–31 Saint Mary’s with leading scorer Lipa with 15, aided by Maggio with 13 and Bienvenu with 11.
Saint Mary’s will hit the road Thursday to face #3 Vermillion Catholic. It will be a tough game for Saint Mary’s, but they have been playing well when it counts the most.