TOWN AND COUNTRY -- The St. Joseph's Academy girls basketball team delivered what may have been the single best half of defensive basketball of the season on Thursday, when the Angels matched up with fellow state power Blue Springs (MO), in a semifinal game at the Visitation Academy Holiday Tournament.
The Angels, who trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second quarter, held Blue Springs to just two field goals over the final two and a half quarters -- allowing just one point in the entire third quarter -- to pull away from the Wildcats for a 60-38 victory.
"Well I would say that's two field goals and one point too many," St. Joe head coach Julie Matheny joked following the game. "But Blue Springs was kind of red hot in the first quarter, and we just said we had to do some things to make it tougher on them, and make them take some tougher shots."
What the Angels did though, was make Blue Springs take nothing but tough shots over the final 19 minutes of the game.
Senior Lizzy Wendell made a three-pointer with 2:58 left in the second quarter to give the Wildcats a 22-15 lead. It was her second 3 of the game, and the fourth one Blue Springs hit in the first half.
But from that point on, St. Joe allowed Blue Springs just two field goal makes the rest of the game to completely blow past the Wildcats for what eventually became a blowout victory.
Senior forward Erin Nelson was key to the St. Joe comeback, scoring eight points during a 12-0 run at the start of the third quarter that helped the Angels grab a lead they would never relinquish.
Nelson finished with 16 points on the night, tying with teammate Sydney Stipanovich for the game high.
"We just felt like we could play better," the Saint Louis University recruit Nelson said. "Coach (Matheny) really pumped us up at halftime."
Along with the 16 points, Stipanovich was a stat sheet stuffer again for the Angels, adding in 14 rebounds, three blocked shots, and three steals.
Senior guard Emmie Haring had 14 points as well for the Angels, who are now 7-0 on the season, and boast the No. 2 ranking among all area girls basketball teams.
On Friday, No. 2 St. Joe will play longtime archrival and No. 1 ranked Incarnate Word Academy, in a highly-antipated 1 versus 2 matchup for the coveted Viz Tourney championship.
Incarnate, which ran away to defeat No. 3 Nerinx Hall on Thursday, is 9-0 this season, and as recently as last week, was the No. 10 ranked girls team in the nation, according to espnW’s Top 25 national poll.
Tip off for the Friday night Viz Tournament championship final is scheduled for 8:45 p.m.
Score by Quarters ........... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final Score
Blue Springs .................. 10 . 14 . 13 . 12 -- 49
St. Joseph's Academy ..... 8 .. 19 . 8 .. 10 -- 45
Blue Springs -- Lizzy Wendell 11, Morgan Hensley 6, Tara Sheehy 6, Karyla Middlebrook 5, Moriah Panuco 4, Morgan McMahan 4, Shelby Graham 2.
St. Joseph's Academy -- Erin Nelson 16, Sydney Stipanovich 16, Emmie Haring 14, Mary Barton 7, Jackie Karl 4, Abbey Combest 3.