After having a game from last weekend cancelled, the St. James girls basketball team, which comes into the season as the ninth ranked team in Class 3, has had a long break since their season opener. After nine days off, the Lady Tigers made the trip up to seventh ranked Fatima and had their hands full with a back and forth ball game. The young Lady Tigers were clutch at the end of the game, using a late three by Savannah Riccetti and some big free throws to pull out a 43-37 win.
Defense was the name of the game early on, as the opening quarter ended with St. James holding onto a 7-5 lead. Bailey Wells and Hannah Marcee led the charge early with Wells scoring four points and Marcee adding three. Fatima picked up the pace in the second quarter. Katelyn Vanderfeltz buried a pair of threes to spark their offense. The Lady Comets also took advantage of 10 trips to the charity stripe, converting on five of those attempts, as they took an 18-14 lead.
St. James then flipped the script in the second half and got out to a great start in the third quarter. The Lady Tigers got some big threes from Savannah Riccetti and Ashlyn Rinehart, as they nearly matched their entire first half output in the third quarter. 12 points offensively and excellent defense was enough for St. James to tie the game at 26 heading into the fourth.
The game continued to go back and forth in the final frame, as neither team was able to grab hold for good until the very end. The largest lead for either team all night was just four points until St. James finished the game strong. The Lady Tigers trailed by one with under a minute to play when Riccetti knocked down a clutch three in the corner to put St. James up 39-37. The defense then got a stop and Aly Bullock was fouled and sent to the free throw line. The freshman was cool as a cucumber and buried both shots to put St. James up by four with 15 seconds left to play. Wells then grabbed a rebound on the other end and was fouled, knocking down the final two free throws to finish off a 43-37 win.
"Savanna Riccetti was just about as clutch as you can get in this game," said head coach Terry Wells after the game. "She played 32 minutes under extreme pressure and really was the backbone of this win. The kids played so hard defensively and we did a good job of getting over mistakes on offense to still get stops. Great team win on the road for us."
The key to the victory was a couple of half time adjustments that helped St. James get locked in for a great second half.
"It was a very physical game that was back and forth all night long. We were down four at halftime, but the kids managed to adjust and played much better in the second half," said coach Wells. "We did a better job of attacking their pressure and it resulted in fewer turnovers and some easy baskets."
Wells led the team in scoring with 12 points in the victory, while adding six rebounds. Riccetti's two clutch threes led to an eight point night. She also added three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Rinehart and Bullock each chipped with seven points. Rinehart also had five rebounds, while Bullock pulled down four boards in the win. Riley Whitener added four points and an assist, while Marcee had three points, a team-high eight rebounds, three steals and two assists. Mikaela Donnelly rounded things out with two points and three rebounds.
The JV lost a tough matchup 28-24 in a low scoring affair. Caily Sanders led the St. James JV with seven points, while Camille Bullock added six. Aly Bullock scored five in the JV game, while Abilene Lortz and Audrey Marcee each scored four.
The Lady Tigers will finally get a chance to play on their home court when they host Cuba on Monday, Dec. 3.