The St. James girls basketball team (12-10, 3-1 FRC) hosted Owensville for a Four Rivers Conference matchup on Monday, Feb. 5. St. James had a slim lead heading into the fourth, before completely shutting down Owensville for a 50-33 win.
The Lady Tigers got out to a sluggish start and Owensville was able to jump out to a quick 9-5 lead. After a few minutes, St. James found their feet, particularly on the defensive end, which sparked a 7-0 run. The defense led to some transition offense, which they needed, because St. James struggled to find their shots in the half court early on. As the first quarter wound down, the shots started to fall. Quinn Paulus hit a three to cap off the 7-0 run with 1:32 left in the quarter to go out in front 12-9. The rest of the quarter was scoreless and the Lady Tigers carried that three point lead into the second.
The St. James shots kept falling to open the second, as Ashlyn Rinehart and Mikaela Donnelly hit back to back threes right off the bat to stretch their lead to 18-9. Owensville took nearly half of the quarter to score their first basket, but St. James didn't bury them outside of those two threes. St. James went on to scored six more points in the quarter and went into the half with a 24-16 lead.
Much like the Lady Tigers did in the second, Owensville came out firing in the third quarter. Breanna Diestelkamp opened the second half with a three and the Dutchgirls knocked down a total of three three-pointers in the quarter. St. James maintained a consistent lead throughout the third, but Diestelkamp knocked down her second three of the quarter with less than 20 seconds left in the third to cut the St. James lead to 34-29 with a quarter to play.
After letting Owensville hang around for three quarters, St. James put the game away in the fourth. The Lady Tigers opened the fourth on a 6-0 run and Owensville was held off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes in the quarter. The Lady Dutchmen scored just four points in the final quarter, all of which came on free throw attempts. The Lady Tiger defense continued to lead to offensive chances on the other end, as St. James scored 16 points in the final quarter. St. James knocked down six of their 10 free throw attempts in the quarter and added 10 points from the field, as they ran away with a 50-33 win.
"We were so poor offensively tonight and I thought our defense really allowed us to continue to compete and eventually win the game," said head coach Terry Wells. "We found a little group there in the fourth quarter that was really playing well defensively and it took a five point game and turned it into a (17) point game. I thought that was important to come out and refocus after we seemed to have lost composure."
Donnelly led St. James with 13 points, while adding a rebound and an assist. Ashlyn Rinehart had a great all-around game with 12 points, six boards and three steals. Bailey Wells added another seven points, two assists, a steal and a team-high seven rebounds. Savanna Riccetti ran the point extremely well with team-highs in assists with eight and steals with six. She also chipped in four points in the win. While it wasn't a perfect game from St. James, it's always good to come out with a tough win.
"It's always good to win ugly," said Wells. "That says something about your team."
This has been a team that has fought through being underdogs all season, yet they're still holding on to a winning record. At least one more win this season will keep them above .500, which is something that a lot of people didn't expect this team to do. These Lady Tigers will keep fighting through their final three games of the regular season to make sure that happens.
"Every win in this league is a good win. We're still undefeated at home on the season, we have a winning record in the conference so far," said the St. James head coach. "If we can get one more win, we can guarantee that we finish with a winning record. I was told by a lot of people that wouldn't happen this year. There's still some things we're fighting for, we just have to be better."
The St. James JV also pulled out a win on Monday night, beating Owensville 40-29. They had a balanced attack with Macy Terrill scoring nine, Caily Sanders adding eight, Audrey Marcee scoring seven and Makiah Marshall chipping in six.
The Lady Tigers will hit the road for their next two contests starting with a trip to Sullivan on Thursday, Feb. 8. The Lady Eagles beat St. James 35-22 earlier this year during the Sullivan Tournament.