The St. James girls basketball team (4-2) faced off against Owensville in the first round of the Peoples Bank Holiday Tournament in Sullivan on Monday, Dec. 11. The Lady Tigers made it through a rough third quarter to advance in the tournament with a 46-34 win.
The Lady Tigers got out to a phenomenal start on Monday night thanks to the three-point ball. St. James made four threes in the first quarter as they started building out a comfortable lead. St. James' first six points came on threes from Ashlynn Rinehart and Bailey Wells, but Owensville stuck around early in the quarter. The Lady Tigers began to break away thanks to stellar defense to go along with their shooting. St. James' aggressive defense started forcing turnovers and the Lady Tigers ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run, capping it off with Rinehart's third three of the quarter as the clock hit zero. That last three gave St. James an 18-7 lead headed into the second.
Despite all the scoring of the first quarter, the offense dropped off the map in the second. St. James was inconsistent on the offensive end throughout the night because of stretches of bad passing. When the Lady Tigers were making smart passes, they scored, but the second quarter saw some iffy decision-making with their passes. Both team scored early in the quarter, but after that there wasn't much offense. The first six minutes of the quarter just saw the four points scored in the opening minute. The quarter ended with each team scoring six points and St. James went into the half with a 24-13 lead.
Owensville picked up their offense in the third quarter, cutting the St. James lead to five. Four Different Dutchgirls scored three or more points in the quarter. The Lady Tigers had a better offensive quarter than in the second, which helped them hold onto a 35-30 lead with a quarter left to play.
The Lady Tigers have been in their share of close games this season and they proved that they've learned from those experiences on Monday night. St. James kept Owensville off the board for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and stretched their lead out to 40-30. The Lady Tigers played great defense throughout the quarter and held Owensville to just four points in the final frame. St. James went 6-9 from the free throw line down the stretch to finish off a 46-34 win.
"We walked about halftime and we talked about it between quarters how we let them hang around, but I said there's nothing we can do about that now. We should've already put them away and now we're in another close game. We've been in four close games, so we should know," said head coach Terry Wells. "We've come out on the bad end of a couple, we've come out on the good end of a couple, so let's finish it off and they were able to do that."
While St. James pulled out the win, the Lady Tigers were inconsistent throughout the night.
"I'm still trying to figure that out," said coach Wells of the inconsistent play from his team. "We're up and down, we're a rollercoaster. That's what we do in practice every day and that's how the games have been...I thought we did some good things today, but we were so sloppy and careless at times with our ball security and our shot selection."
Despite some inconsistency, St. James had some strong performances on Monday night. Ashlynn Rinehart led the Lady Tigers with 16 points, including a 3-3 performance at the free throw line down the stretch. Rinehart was 3-4 from three-point range on the night, while adding five rebounds and one steal. Mikaela Donnelly had a solid night as well with 10 points, while pulling down eight boards to fall just shy of a double-double. Wells was also just short of a double-double with eight points and a team high 10 rebounds. She also added four assists and a steal. St. James and Owensville tied in the rebound department, as each team pulled down 37 boards, while the Lady Tigers won the turnover battle, giving the ball away six times less than the Dutchgirls.
St. James did have a strong night on the defensive end. They managed to hold Owensville's superstar Breanna Diestelkamp to 12 points, despite the tall junior forward touching the ball on every possession. Coach Wells said there are a few things to tighten up on defense, but he likes what he saw overall.
"Just a couple of brain farts here and there to let (Diestelkamp) to catch the ball exactly where she wants," said coach Wells. "We talked about that and we made the mistakes. To be as good as we need to be, we can't have defensive miscues, because we struggle scoring the ball sometimes, so our defense needs to be on point the whole game. Then getting stops helps push us in transition offensively, which should help us."
The Lady Tigers faced Sullivan in the tournament's semi-final on Wednesday, Dec. 13, but results were not available at press time. The third place game and finals will both be played on Friday, Dec. 15.