The Spearville Lady Lancers just didn't quite know what hit them after playing the #7 ranked St. John-Hudson's Lady Tigers last Saturday evening, the Tigers leading 18-5 going into the half and then pulling away for an easy 44-18 win to capture Larned's Keady Classic's basketball championship.
On paper, the Lady Lancers had some things going for them – some experience, having one or two starters and a number of reserves back from their team that placed 4th at State last year, and almost to a man, taller than the Tigers, in some cases, much taller.
But just because things might look that way isn't necessarily the case, especially running up against one of the top defenses in 1A – the St. John Tigers.
“We knew we were going to have to play hard, so we did.” said St. John's Jamie Waters. “We played through, keeping the pace up and pulled away for the win.”
Just one day after St. John's run-a-away victory over Hoisington 51-21 which caused 30 Cardinal tournovers, one “might” assume that the Lady Tigers' defense had peaked then.
That assumption would be wrong, and the Lady Tigers' defense proved it going against Spearville, allowing the Lancers just two baskets and no free throws in the first half. And it didn't get a whole lot better for the Lancers in the second half either, the St. John Ladies' defense allowing Spearville just 13 points for the half and 18 points for the game.
“I was very proud of our girls for their effort and how hard the girls played all week long. Their defense was really good, which it had to be because we were sometimes hesitant on offense, or just couldn't seem to make a shot.” said St. John's head coach Danny Smith. “That will be something we really have to work on, even more than we already are. Honestly, I think some of it is that we play so hard on defense that we are so tired that we miss easy shots or can't seem to make anything.”
St. John's offense at times was somewhat defensive in nature, the Lady Tigers patiently working for the good shot, with fast, crisp passes going around the key that kept the Lancers from getting the ball.
The first quarter had four Tigers scoring with St. John's two seniors Morgan Osborne and Jamie Waters each canning a three-pointer, the rest coming from Alexes Witt with a basket and Teresa Christie making both of her free throws. The score going into the second quarter – St. John leading 12-2.
St. John did a good job on Spearville's big men and keeping the ball out of their hands, the Tigers doubling and sometimes trippling up inside. And as the game progressed, especially in the second half the Tigers were getting better positioning inside, blocking out and getting a Tiger rebound.
Page 2 of 2 - “Another real positive has been our rebounding. We have really hit the glass and have been rebounding way better this season than we did even the past 2 seasons.” said Smith. “I am really encouraged by the progress we are making so far.”
Neither team scored much in the second with the Lady Tigers outscoring Spearville 6-3. Witt made two baskets and Waters one, St. John leading 18-5.
A tired Spearville squad got their second wind going into the third quarter, the Tigers outscoring the Lancers just by one, 10-9, the score after three quarters, St. John leading 28-14.
Osborne started things making a three with Tia Smith following up with a three at the top of the key. Waters and Teresa Christie each made a basket.
The Lancers looked spent close to the end of the quarter and they didn't seem to have much left going into the final period. St. John capitalized on this, outscoring Spearville 30-4. Several Tigers got into the scoring column – Teresa Chrisitie, Witt, Waters, Osborne and Tara Christie. St. John went 4-8 from the free throw line.
The score at the end of the game had St. John winning 44-18 and taking home the Keady Classic championship.
Scoring for St. John: Waters 12, Osborne 9, Witt 8, Teresa Christie 8, Smith 3, Tara Christie 2, Jessica Hanson 1, Brandi Hanson 1.
Free throws: 6-10, 60 per cent.
Teresa Chritie 2, Osborne 1, Waters 1, Jessica Hanson 1, Brandi Hanson 1.
Three point goals: St. John 4 ( Osborne 2, Waters 1, Smith 1 ).
During first round action at Larned on Tuesday, the Lady Tigers defeated the Ellinwood Eagles 40-23, the Tigers' defense causing 37 Eagle turnovers.
St. John's next competition will be at home this Friday playing Cunningham.