St. Joe's Earns Trip to the Final Four This Weekend in Columbia
The Angels defeated Hazelwood Central 56-34 in the Class 5 quarterfinals Saturday at UMSL.
Florida was the destination of choice for the St. Joseph's Academy basketball team during the Christmas holidays.
But the Angels would rather be nowhere else but Columbia, Missouri in mid-March. St. Joe's stamped its ticket to Columbia, the site of the Missouri State High School Activities Association state tournament with a 56-34 victory over Hazelwood Central Saturday in the Class 5 quarterfinals at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
St. Joe's coach Julie Matheny was wearing her green beads, celebrating not only Mardi Gras but another appearance in the final four.
"I don't know how many that is now but I do know that everyone is special and memorable for both the kids and the coaches," she said.
The Angels are probably known more for their offense than their defense but defense was definitely the key Saturday in a game in which St. Joe's struggled with its shooting.
"The big key at this time of the season is defense," said sophomore Sydney Stipanovich, who had eight blocked shots to go along with 13 rebounds and team-leading 16 points Saturday. "We knew they were a tough team and knew who their shooters were. I thought we did a good job of talking on defense."
Hazelwood Central had scored 60 points in a game last month which the Angels won by 10.
"They really did a good job with all of their zone defenses today," Hazelwood Central coach Wendy Reeves said. "We just could not get anything going offensively. We worked against the zone in practice but it is hard to simulate girls who are 6-1, 6-1 and 6-3. They extended their zone although we got some good looks and misses some easy ones, especially in the first half."
Stipanovich not only had the eight blocks but also intimidated many of the missed shots inside.
"Sydney has had a fantastic season for us," Matheny said. "She really provides a defensive presence. I think that is 18 double-doubles for her this season and she also has a couple of triple-doubles."
She came up two blocked shots short of her third triple double Saturday.
The Angels extended what was only an 11-9 lead after the first quarter to a double digit halftime advantage at 25.-15.
The Hawks were never able to get the deficit to single digits in the second half despite St. Joe's making only two 3-pointers in the game.
"It shows that we can beat a good team even if the shots are not falling," St. Joe's Maddie Stock said. "We knew that defense was going to be the key to winning today. The zone is my favorite defense to play and one of the reasons is that it seems to work well for us."
Stipanovich had 16 and Maddie Stock 13 to pace the Angels, who improved to 27-3 for the season. St. Joe's will play the winner of the Blue Springs-Staley quarterfinal game in the Class 5 semifinals next Friday at 6:45 p.m. in Columbia. St. Joe's defeated Blue Springs 71-69 in overtime on Jan. 15.
Candyce Ussery had seven points to lead Hazelwood Central, which finished the season with a 23-6 record.