Wins would have Lady Tigers, Tigers seeded for championship opportunities

Dane Files’ mid range jump shot will be needed tonight. file photo

Saint Mary’s roundball continues to heat the hardwood as temperatures drop outside. The Lady Tigers have risen to the number two spot in Division IV standings after spending much of the season at three. The 19-4 ladies are undefeated in District play and are currently on an eight-game winning streak. That streak was in jeopardy Tuesday night when the Lady Tigers traveled to Northwood Lena to open the second half of district play.

It went down to the wire and Saint Mary’s emerged unscathed with a one-point victory, 44-43. The score was somewhat of a throttling of the Ladies who have been averaging about 60 points a game. Three of the starting five players have been scoring more than 10 points a game. Maria Bienvenu leads that group with 15.7 PPG and is followed by Emily Maggio with 11.3 and Kenzie Lipa with 10.5.

SWEPCO -Conserve Energy -300×250

Three more games will determine final seeding for the Lady Tigers and by the time you read this that count will be down to two. Saint Mary’s hosts Logansport Friday night for a showdown of district foes. Logansport is the toughest competition that the Lady Tigers will face in the remainder of the regular season. If you recall, the ladies advanced to the quarterfinals last season before losing to Vermillion Catholic.

Like last season, the Lady Tiger squad will more than likely have a first-round bye and host a regional final and when victorious host a quarterfinal. First things first though, win out and earn the title District Champions. Coach Tom Collins is very optimistic about this group and thinks they can achieve great things. To achieve that, they must be playing their best at the end of the season. He has a good starting five and a solid bench with Carissa Kautz and Kelsee Bienvenu and others giving valuable minutes each game.

Thomas Howell prepares for showdown with Logansport

Could this be their year?

The boys have also moved up one spot in the rankings from seven to six in Division IV. Saint Mary’s will bring their 19 and 5 record home Friday to host Logansport who is currently the District leader and working a seven-game win streak. The Saint Mary’s Tigers lost the first contest with Logansport, on their turf, by a score of 49-33 but had gotten the score close late in the game.

The Friday night contest is as big as they get. It’s for a share of the District title and should Northwood Lena beat Logansport on Valentine’s eve, then Saint Mary’s will be outright District Champs. But first, the SMH Tigers need to beat Logansport at home Friday night. That will be done when you read this, but the result could create some interesting events. If SMH wins and Logansport then wins out, it will set up a one game contest at a neutral site, possibly Zwolle for a winner takes District contest between Logansport and St. Mary’s.

Coach Tom Collins hopes this will be a recurring picture Friday night

Saint Mary’s beat Northwood-Lena 58 to 35 on Tuesday and Thomas Howell racked up another double-double scoring 20 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. Tristen Mitchell posted his own double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Howell has been averaging close to 25 PPG. The ULM commit is just too much of a presence in the paint for most teams to handle. He’ll need help down the stretch and into the post season for the senior to possibly return to a title game.

Coach Collins told his team, “This is what you live for as an athlete,” at the end of practice in preparation for Logansport. It’s true, you do thrive on the possibility of being a beast at your craft. The SMH Tigers can be three-time district Champions but they must execute and win.

Tristen Mitchell practices set plays

. Saint Mary’s will wrap up the regular season on the road at Winnfield on Feb. 18 and then await their fate for post-season playoff seeding.