FRONTENAC -- For all the possible bits of bad news a coach might get in the days before the first game of the season, the phone call St. Joseph's Academy basketball coach Julie Matheny got a couple days ago wasn't so bad.
The Angels were supposed to open the new girls hoops season last Friday night, with a game against Althoff Catholic High in SJA's annual Turkey Day Shootout.
But in the days before the game, an administrator from Althoff called Matheny and asked would St. Joe be willing to cancel the game.
The reason being, the Althoff football team has been the Cinderella story of the Illinois high school playoffs, and made it to the state championship game, which was played in Champaign (IL) on Friday afternoon.
And with the Crusader football team playing for the state title, the girls on the basketball team wanted to go to that game instead of playing their own here in St. Louis.
So after some discussion, it was decided that Althoff and St. Joe would have to find another day to play.
"I guess you could say our turkey didn't come in," Matheny said, with a laugh. "But we understood. This was a very big deal to their community, and they had a couple of girls that had brothers that play, and they felt obligated to go and support the football team. We totally understand. And we'll just find another day later in the season to play. We'll definitely re-schedule it."
The last minute cancellation meant that St. Joe's new season opener would be Saturday at SJA's Wellington Athletic Complex, when the Angels hosted Troy (MO) Buchanan High on Day 2 of the Turkey Day Shootout.
And despite the one-day delay, St. Joe didn't disappoint, as the Angels outplayed and outlasted Troy for a 67-38 win.
"We played pretty well," Matheny said. "We're still trying to figure out our roles, and we're changing defenses a little bit, and our offense is little different without (2012 SJA grads Maddie and Morgan Stock, who are now playing at Mizzou)."
Even without the Stock twins, the St. Joe offense worked pretty smoothly on Saturday, with senior Sydney Stipanovich notching game-high figures of 23 points and 11 rebounds, and teammate Erin Nelson adding in 19 points as well.
"You're going to see a lot from Sydney and Erin this year," Matheny said. "Those two are just workhorses. They're both just strong, physical players, and they know where the money is from them. They're both consistent. Sydney's down low with the nice touch, and Erin likes to dribble penetrate, and they're both good, strong leaders."
The Angels also got a solid contribution from new backcourt members Emmie Haring and Mary Barton, and from bench players Susie Schmank, Lexi Gorman, and Abbey Combest.
"I'm excited about this team," Matheny said. "Some things are a little different, but I'm excited about where we can go this year."
The Angels, who always seem to play one of the most difficult regular season schedules of any team in the area, will be back in action on Sunday, December 2, when they'll face Jefferson City (MO), in the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College in Columbia (MO).
St. Joe will also host a pair of home games at the Wellington Athletic Complex in the coming weeks, with a matchup against Ursuline Academy slated for December 4, and a meeting with Nerinx Hall set for December 8.
Tip-off for the Ursuline game is scheduled for 6 p.m., with a JV game right before at 4:30 p.m., while the Nerinx contest will tip at 3 p.m., again with the two JV squads playing early at 1:30 p.m.
Score by Quarters ............. 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final Score
Troy Buchanan ................. 8 .. 12 . 12 .. 6 -- 38
St. Joseph's Academy ...... 19 . 17 . 18 . 13 -- 67