It wasn't a performance that Terry Wells is going to lobby be put on DVD and sealed in a time capsule somewhere.
But a win is a win. And this win sends the St. James Lady Tigers to the Missouri Class 3 Quarterfinals.
The St. James High School girls' basketball team took control of things late in the first period and led the rest of the way to beat Licking 53-35 Wednesday in Missouri Class 3 Sectional play on the campus of Missouri S&T.
In the boys' sectional game at S&T's Bullman Building, Fatima stopped Hartville 62-46.
The St. James girls and Fatima boys move on to quarterfinal action Saturday in Springfield on the campus of Drury University.
St. James (24-4), ranked No. 7 in the final Class 3 regular season state poll, will meet Ash Grove (24-6), the No. 9 state-ranked squad, in quarterfinal action at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. Ash Grove advanced by defeating Fair Grove 67-56 in sectional play Wednesday at Springfield.
The St. James-Ash Grove winner goes on to the Class 3 Final Four March 7-9 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, meeting either Stockton (16-12) or Cameron (18-11) in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. March 7.
The Class 3 girls' third-place game is scheduled for 1:40 p.m. March 8 while the championship game is slated for 1:20 p.m. March 9.
Teams still alive in the other Class 3 girls' state tourney bracket are Twin Rivers (23-7), Lutheran St. Peters (25-4), North Technical (19-6) and Palmyra (24-5).
In the boys' quarterfinal game Saturday at Drury, Fatima (27-1) meets Strafford (24-4) at 6 p.m. Strafford advanced by beating Seneca 70-50 in sectional play Wednesday.
St. James 53, Licking 35
The Lady Tigers normally depend heavily on long-range shooting to help overcome a lack of size. However, on Wednesday St. James was able to overcome an off-shooting night, connecting on just two 3-point field goals.
"If you told me we would win a sectional game hitting just two 3-pointers I would have thought you were crazy," said Wells, St. James' first-year head coach. "But we were able to adjust things a little, getting to the rim. I am very pleased."
Clinging to a one-point lead, St. James reeled off six unanswered points to close the first period. A 10-foot turnaround jumper by 5-10 senior forward M.J. Buschmann with 21 seconds left gave the Lady Tigers a 17-9 edge entering the second quarter.
St. James would stretch its run to 13-2 during the second period. Buschmann made a steal and canned a 12-foot jumper with 5:06 remaining to give the Lady Tigers their largest first-half cushion, 23-11.
Sophomore guard Megan Smith was fouled at the buzzer and hit two free throws to cut the Licking Lady Wildcat halftime deficit to 27-18.
Page 2 of 3 - St. James was never in danger of losing the lead after intermission, but the Lady Tigers didn't pull away until the final four minutes.
Laken Hebblethwaite, a 5-8 sophomore guard, got open inside and converted a five-footer with 4:57 remaining in the third period to bring the Lady Wildcats to within seven points, 29-22.
St. James responded with a 9-0 run – seven of those points coming from Buschmann. Buschmann's layup off an assist by sophomore guard Alexis Uffmann gave St. James a 16-point advantage with 2:31 left in the third quarter. St. James led 40-26 entering the final period.
From the 4:07 mark to the 1:02 mark of the fourth quarter the Lady Tigers outscored Licking 11-0. Sophomore guard Ashlee Marlatt's free throw made it a 20-point game.
Licking offered something – physical play – that has given the Lady Tigers problems during their only rough stretch of the season, when they lost four of their final six regular-season games.
"When everyone was panicking at the end of our season, (assistant coach Jim Engelbrecht) and myself told the girls this would get us ready," Wells said. "The Four Rivers Conference is a very physical league and Licking was very physical. And we were ready for it."
Buschmann erupted for 30 points, eight steals and six rebounds for St. James while Uffmann, smacked around all evening from her point guard position by Licking defenders, added 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Smith netted 21 points for Licking, which ends at 22-7.
Wells knows little about Ash Grove, and will spend the next couple of days on the phone, searching for tips and game tapes.
"I don't know a whole lot yet," he said. "I know they have won 20-plus games and they have a 6-0 girl in the middle.
"But I'm pretty confident in our group of kids. They do everything they can to succeed."
St. James (24-4): Uffmann 4-2-10, Kean 1-0-2, Buschmann 11-6-30, Marlatt 0-5-5, S. Rinehart 0-5-5, Diestelkamp 0-1-1, Totals 16-19-53.
Licking (22-7): Hebblethwaite 1-0-2, Littrell 2-0-4, Smith 8-5-21, Osborne 2-0-4, V. Cook 1-2-4, Totals 14-7-35.
Fatima 62, Hartville 46
The Fatima Comets got a huge game from 6-1 all-state senior guard Patrick Schnieders.
Schnieders poured in 35 points – including four 3-pointers.
Fatima, ranked No. 4 in the final regular-state state poll, took a 17-11 lead after the first period. But the Hartville Eagles kept things close and trailed 32-25 at halftime. Schnieders finished with 16 points by halftime.
Each team scored 14 points in the third period and the Comets went into the final period up 46-39.
However, Fatima outscored Hartville 16-7 in the fourth quarter to hold on.
Page 3 of 3 - Shade Piper, a 6-2 junior, had 19 points for Hartville, which ends at 23-5.
Fatima (27-1): Gentges 2-3-7, Stegeman 4-2-10, Schnieders 14-3-35, Schulte 1-1-3, Zeilman 2-0-5, Bax 1-0-2, Totals 24-9-62.
Hartville (23-5): Simmons 2-2-7, Keith 1-0-2, Wilson 2-0-6, Piper 8-3-19, Johnson 2-2-6, Hensley 2-0-6, Totals 17-7-46.