Lady Tigers win their three games by average of 35.7 points.
The question entering play in the girls' bracket of the US Bank/Rolla High Holiday Invitational: Could anyone slow down the state's No. 1-ranked Class 3 team St. James Lady Tigers.
The answer: Nope.
In its three games in the event St. James whipped the opposition by an average of 35.7 points in coasting to the Holiday Invitational championship. In Saturday's title game the Waynesville Lady Tigers gave St. James its toughest test of the tournament, losing by 'only' 18 points, 61-43, at the Rolla High gym.
St. James entered the tournament in a foul mood after suffering its lone defeat of the season to undefeated Park Hills Central the previous week in the finals of the weather-delayed Potosi Tournament.
However, STJ bounced back quickly to improve to 10-1.
"I'm very pleased, especially defensively," said St. James Terry Wells following the Rolla tourney championship. "We're coming out and scoring a few points. But, really, a lot of that offense comes from the defense."
In the other games on Saturday in the girls' bracket: In the third-place game St. Clair clipped Rolla 52-45, in the fifth-place game Sedalia Smith-Cotton got past Newburg 57-48 and in the seventh-place game Houston clubbed Fulton 56-36.
Ashlee Marlatt, a 5-6 junior guard, was named the Holiday Invitational Most Valuable Player. Also named to the all-tournament team were Alexis Uffmann and Devin Fuhring of St. James; Jade DeShurley of Rolla; Kallie Bildner and Hannah Bland of Waynesville; Abby Knight of Sedalia Smith-Cotton, and Karissa Hoffman of St. Clair.
St. James 61, Waynesville 43: Although the final score was lopsided, both coaches felt it was a good performance by their respective clubs.
"This was an interesting game because we had already played them," Wells said (St. James defeated Waynesville 61-55 in the season-opener for both teams). "We showed we got a lot better defensively. Bildner is a load; I told the girls at halftime she's just making us better. I thought we did a better job in the second half on her."
"They are very good and deep in their bench," Waynesville head coach Brittany Matlock said of St. James. "We got tired and, at times, they outworked us. At times I thought we did a really good job against their press and at other times they caused a lot of havoc."
After Bildner, a 6-2 sophomore forward, opened the game with a three-point play, St. James went on a 15-3 run and was in control the rest of the way. St. James led 18-11 after one period.
St. James closed out the first half with a 12-3 run, and a three-pointer by sophomore guard Shauna Rinehart gave STJ a 35-19 advantage at intermission.
Marlatt opened the second half with a three-pointer and St. James led by at least 17 points the rest of the way.
Marlatt nailed five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to lead St. James while Fuhring, a 5-10 freshman forward, had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals; Uffmann, a 5-7 junior guard, dished out 12 assists and made five steals, and Rinehart added 11 points.
Bland, a 5-10 senior forward, had 17 points and Bildner added 15 points for Waynesville, now 4-6. Waynesville was without freshman guard/forward Bree Stoddard, who suffered facial injuries during a fall on the court in first-round action on Thursday. Matlock expects her back soon.
St. Clair 52, Rolla 45: In a battle of Lady Bulldogs, St. Clair survived a Rolla comeback attempt to win the third-place plaque. Rolla senior forward Madison Collier scored Rolla's final seven points in the last 2:30. Collier's two free throws at the 2:14 remaining cut the St. Clair lead to five, 48-43.
After St. Clair hit one-of-two free throws, Collier was again sent to the free throw line as St. Clair's leading scorer, 5-11 sophomore forward Katelyn Guehne, fouled out. Collier hit both attempts with 1:45 left to cut the RHS deficit to four, 49-45.
However, St. Clair hit three-of-four free throws in the final 1:23 and Rolla was unable to score again.
St. Clair led 11-8 after the first period and Rolla took a 21-20 edge into halftime. St. Clair outscored Rolla 10-3 in the third period to go into the fourth quarter up 30-24.
Collier scored 17 points - 12 in the second half - to lead Rolla, now 1-8.
Guehne scored 16 ponts - 10 in the second half - and junior guard Allison Hinson added 13 for St. Clair, now 3-5.
Smith-Cotton 57, Newburg 48: The Sedalia Lady Tigers outscored the Newburg Lady Wolves 30-16 over the second and third periods to take the lead for good. Newburg led 13-8 after the first quarter and Smith-Cotton took a 23-19 halftime edge. The Lady Wolves were down 38-29 heading into the fourth quarter.
Junior forward Kelsey Austin had 13 points to pace Newburg, now 6-4. Knight, a 6-0 junior, paced Sedalia with 14 points.
Houston 56, Fulton 36: The Houston Lady Tigers bolted to a 19-9 lead after the first period and led the rest of the way. It was 31-16 at halftime and 48-28 after three quarters.
Junior guard Kylee Elmore and sophomore center Sarah Kelley each had 14 points for Houston. Sophomore forward NaShayla Brandt led Fulton with 13 points.
St. James 61, Waynesville 43
St. James (61): Uffmann 2-1-5, Kean 1-0-3, Fuhring 4-5-13, Guese 4-0-8, Marlatt 8-0-21, Rinehart 4-0-11, Totals 23-6-61.
Waynesville (43): Bildner 6-3-15, Laughlin 1-0-3, Herrmann 1-1-3, Kizzee 2-0-4, Bland 7-3-17, Williams 0-1-1, Totals 17-8-43.
St. Clair 52, Rolla 45
Rolla (45): McCaul 2-3-9, DeShurley 1-7-9, Collier 5-5-17, Rafter 1-0-2, Victor 0-2-2, Neal 2-2-6, Totals 11-19-45.
St. Clair (52): Cokley 1-0-2, Wachter 0-5-5, Guehne 7-2-16, Hinson 3-5-13, Hoffman 4-2-10, Murphy 0-1-1, York 2-1-5, Totals 17-16-52.
Sedalia 57, Newburg 48
Newburg (48): Guffey 0-6-6, Van Pelt 1-0-2, Richardson 3-1-7, Callahan 0-4-4, Austin 4-5-13, Dondlinger 2-1-5, Shelby Friend 2-1-5, Sands 2-2-6, Totals 14-20-48.
Smith-Cotton (57): Coble 4-3-11, Lewellyn 2-3-7, Knight 4-6-14, Pollitt 2-0-4, Tumlinson 4-0-8, Harding 0-3-3, Perkins 4-2-10, Totals 20-17-57.
Houston 56, Fulton 36
Houston (56): Elmore 5-2-14, Shelby Cremer 0-1-1, Casper 0-2-2, Sydney Cremer 2-3-7, Koch 3-0-6, Shea 0-1-1, Kelley 6-2-14, Ramsey 0-1-1, Preheim 3-0-8, Hayes 1-0-2, Totals 20-12-56.
Fulton (36): S. Totta 2-0-5, Guse 3-2-10, Horstmeier 1-5-7, Brandt 5-2-13, Royer 0-1-1, Totals 11-10-36.
Ashlee Marlatt, St. James-MVP
Kallie Bildner, Waynesville
Devin Fuhring, St. James
Hannah Bland, Waynesville
Alexis Uffmann, St. James
Abby Knight, Sedalia Smith-Cotton
Karissa Hoffman, St. Clair
Jade DeShurley, Rolla