Holiday time means tournament time for the St. Joseph's Academy basketball team.
The Angels played their first round game in the 37th Annual Visitation Academy Tournament Saturday. St. Joseph's, which is seeded second in the 16-team field, rolled to a 63-27 victory over Rosati-Kain.
They will board a plane for a 7:15 flight to Phoenix Sunday morning and play in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions 64-team event which features some of the top girls basketball teams in the country.
The Angels return home Thursday night after four games on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to celebrate Christmas and then they get right back to action in the Visitation Tournament Monday with a quarterfinal game against Cor Jesu.
"This is a fun time," Angels junior Syndey Stipanovich said. "We love playing in the Visitation Tournament which is supported by the whole St. Louis community. And I am also excited about Phoenix where we get to play teams we never have played."
Senior Morgan Stock, who is playing with a broken finger, has experience in both tournaments.
"We went to Phoenix when I was a freshman and it was a lot of fun to play against such good players and competition," Stock said. "And I have always wanted to win the Visitation Tournament. That would be a big highlight of my senior year."
The Angels, who lost seven seniors but return top players Maddie and Morgan Stock, Stipanovich and Erin Nelson, were dominant from start to finish in the win Saturday against the Kougars.
St. Joseph's scored the game's first 12 points, led 18-1 after the first quarter and 42-6 late in the second quarter. The starters had just a cameo appearance in the second half.
"The best thing about the start of the season is that we are getting a little better every game," Angels coach Julie Matheny said. "We have some new girls in the rotation and this was Lexi Gorman's first game and Morgan missed a couple of games with the broken finger."
The Angels came home with a 1-3 record from the Nike Tournament several years ago.
"We just want to continue our growth and compete against the highest level of teams," Matheny said. "This is the best of the best. Hopefully, we can make a positive statement."
Incarnate Word, which is the top seed at Visitation, is also making the Phoenix trip. The Red Knights beat the Angels by one point in last year's Viz Tournament championship game.
"Nobody on this team has ever won a tournament here," Matheny said. "I think it is especially big for Morgan and Maddie. They want to make sure the school's name gets on the back of the program (with the list of previous champions)."