The St. John Lady Tigers came up against the power house St. Paul Indians in the first round of the state basketball tournament. The 21-2 Indians proved too much for the Tigers were overpowered and lost 19-26.

The St. John Lady Tigers traveled to Fort Hays State University’s Gross Coliseum last Thursday, going up against the second seeded, 21-2 St. Paul Indians in the first round of the Kansas State High School 1A Division One Basketball Tournament. (St. Paul’s school is located in the southeastern part of the state.)

It was definitely a different kind of game playing against the Indians. If you liked defense, you would have had more appreciation for both teams defense. If you liked offense and a lot of scoring, that was a different story.

This was the Lady Tigers first State game for several years. Unfortunately the Lady Tigers came away with a 19-26 loss, ending their 2017-18 basketball season at St. John.

Neither team could score much, of course a lot of that having to do with the other team’s defense, plus some cold shooting.

As the buzzer sounded ending the first quarter, the score was St. John Tigers 2, St. Paul Indians 2.

The only points the Tigers would make was at the 3:20 mark when St. John’s Paige Doran made a basket.

The Tigers added seven points in the second, as St. John senior Tara Nelson went 2/2 from the line and later nailed a 3-pointer. St. John senior Torre Fisher also made a basket. The score going into the half, St. John 9, St. Paul 14.

The scoring was absent from both sides with a little over four minutes in. Jackie Rios went 2-2 from the line, followed by Nelson’s free throw and then making a basket. The score going into the fourth (after a buzzer beater by the Indians), Tigers 14, Indians 16.

The fourth stayed close for most of the way as Bree Meyer went 2/2 from the line. The score 16-16 at the 6:27 mark. Two minutes later, the score was still tied at 18-18. Doran made a basket. With 38.8 seconds left, Leslie Ramirez made a free throw, the score 19-21. The Lady Tigers lose the game 19-26.

“St. Paul is a very good defensive team and they obviously caused us a lot of problems with their defense, as we did them” said St. John’s head basketball

coach Danny Smith. “I thought we really had them stymied. The girls played so hard and had a lot of deflections, steals and rebounds. We missed 11 shots inside of 6 feet which was the story of the game. You just can't do that in the state tournament. St. Paul's misses were all from the perimeter. To their credit, they didn't let us get into our offense very easily. We knew from watching that if we could get past this first game, we would have a good chance to make it to the finals, which St. Paul did.”

Smith continued saying, “All that aside, I couldn't be prouder of this group of girls this season. They have exceeded expectations more than any team I've ever coached. They believed in each other and never lost faith in what we were doing or our ability to get there. The only teams we lost to were all ranked teams with a combined record of something like 118-7. Combine with that the fact that our girls played so many minutes throughout the season, many of them never get- ting a break during games, and learning to have quality practices with only 9 healthy girls.”

“Jackie and Paige will return as our seniors next season. Those two play so hard and are tremendous defensively. Erin, Bree, and America will return as our juniors and between Erin, Bree, Jackie and Paige we will return a lot of varsity experience. Our freshman Zayreli and Breanna have been great in practice and are true team players. All of these girls have shown tremendous improvements this season.”

“We lose 3 very, very valuable seniors. Leslie Ramirez has been tremendous this season. She hadn't played basketball since 7th grade and came in and contributed and had the greatest attitude and work ethic this entire season. Torre Fisher came back after not playing last season and was our best defensive player and ball handler. She led us in steals and always guarded the other team's best player. She was a great leader on and off the court for us and was just a tremendous addition.

“Tara Nelson came very close to scoring her 1,000th point this season and her 500th rebound. She leaves a huge void as a player, but especially a role model and a leader. She led us in about every offensive category. She was my gym rat. The one always asking to come in before school, or on a weekend and shoot. I can't imagine doing things without her. These 3 seniors deserved a good season and I'm glad they were rewarded with one. We wish them the best.”