New Year brings new life to St. Mary’s basketball

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Trent Friedel

The Saint Mary’s Lady Tigers and Tigers have been battling for victories on the court in advance of district action starting.
Missing this season for the Tigers after graduation is the hot three-point shooter Ethan Busby.
The Tigers started the season with an overtime victory over diocese rival Menard 43-40. They hit a losing skid from early December until almost the end of the year.

This article published in the Jan. 20, 2022, print edition

Since New Year’s Eve, the Tigers have won three of four games and started district against Northwood-Lena Tuesday evening. The Gators held a 12-6 record coming into the contest and held the #3 ranking in class1-A. Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, the Tigers rose to the challenge. St. Mary’s won the tip but could not score on their possession.
Senior Kelsee Bienvenu looks for a clear shot.

Both teams settled into man-to-man defense. The Gators pressured inbounds plays by the Tigers with full court press, but St. Mary’s had little trouble with the pressure. The game was close early on and frustrations showed for the Gators just prior to halftime. With 50.7 seconds left, Lassard commits a personal foul, and his attitude garners a technical foul as well.
Sophomore Ava Errington takes the ball down the court. Photos courtesy St. Mary’s School

Mixon Bankston goes to the line and is unable to make the free throws. The Gator’s lose composure and commit another technical foul after being called for an offensive foul on a charge. Payne Williams sinks both shots and the Tigers trail 31-23. St. Mary’s made it a one possession game with a three pointer by Mixon after Lassard makes a spin move in the paint that rocks Adam Parker and sends him to the bench for a short time. Northwood-Lena led 43-36 after three periods.
Junior Adam Parker takes a shot from the charity stripe.

Bankston sank another three in the fourth to make the score 53-50 and the Tiger’s only trailed by one point in the quarter. Parker fouled out with 55.6 seconds remaining in the game sending Lassard to the line. He made his free throws and the Gators won by a 10 point spread, 60-50, but the score doesn’t indicate how close the contest was throughout.
Lassard finished with 24-points and two jams on the night.
Bankston had 17 and Ben Bienvenu finished with 16.
Senior Cameron Bienvenu looks for the pass opportunity.

The Lady Tigers are struggling on the hardwood with only three victories thus far and are missing Kenzie Lipa this season. The top ranked 1-A Lady Gators only have one loss on the season to Lakeview who sits as the second seed currently in 2-A.
Sophomore Payne Williams fends off two defenders to take it to the hoop.

With that impressive resume coming into the game, Northwood-Lena seemed to be an insurmountable task for the Lady Tigers. But the Lady Tigers didn’t shy away from the challenge. Full court pressure by the Lady Gators proved troublesome for Saint Mary’s. The Lady Tigers trailed by 16 at halftime. The Lady Tigers were content to play half-court defense employing a 2-3 zone.
Mixon Bankston flies over a defender for a jump shot.

In the end, the Lady Gators prevailed winning 47-31. The lady Tigers played tough and turnovers and lack of efficiency at the free throw line proved costly.
Coach Jake Bankston commented on both games stating, “Our sophomores stepped up and I’m really proud of this team and how hard they played against the number three team in the state in 1-A. The girls really impressed me, and it was a quality outing for them in our district opener.” Both squads will take to the road in continued district action against Block Friday, Jan. 14.