Lady Flyers win Cougar Classic title
In what started out as a defensive battle at the Cougar Classic championship game, the Lady Cougars of Faith Academy scored the first points after nearly two minutes of play.
However, that 2-0 lead for Faith (3-3) quickly evaporated as St. Joseph (5-2) dominated for a majority of the game as they took home the tournament championship with a 62-27 win Saturday night.
"The girls played really good this weekend. I'm very proud of the way they played," St. Joseph head coach Carrie Myers said. "We're a young team with only two seniors on the floor and the freshman and sophomores are holding their own out there. I couldn't be prouder of them."
Tournament MVP Kensey Marshall led the way with 21 points for St. Joseph. Kalyn Hempel was second with 13 points and Iris Young had 12. Courtne Grevey and Bianca Sanchez each had nine points to lead Faith Academy.
The Lady Cougars were without one of their regular starters in the championship game. Sarah Alex suffered a broken nose in the semifinal victory over Austin Hyde Park.
"She's our starter who plays the most minutes on our team," Lemke said. "We're disappointed, but at the same time we know there is a bigger picture."
For St. Joseph, the tournament championship is important for more reasons than one. It was a tournament played in their hometown and can give the Lady Flyers a spark for more success as the season continues.
"It's huge," Myers said of the importance of winning a tournament in your hometown. "It gives us the confidence we need in some tough games coming up."
The Lady Flyers' ultimate show of dominance came in the fourth quarter when the defense gave up just two points to Faith Academy. Those two points came at the 5:30 mark from Brittney Church.
"St. Joseph just had more intensity than us," Lemke said. "They wanted it more. Our girls were playing hard, but at the same time St. Joseph's was fantastic. I was impressed with them."
The defensive battle began in the first quarter of action when the two teams were tied at 2-2 after four minutes of play. St. Joseph slowly pulled away in the final three minutes with eight points, four of which were scored by Hempel. The first quarter was the last time Faith held the lead in their own tournament when Bianca Sanchez hit the first of her three 3-pointers on the night.
The Lady Flyers found their offensive groove in the second quarter with 15 points. Chloe Shoemake, who was named to the all-tournament team along with Iris Young, scored six of her team's points before halftime. The lead could have been much larger if not for seven missed free throws by St. Joseph.
The Lady Cougars' offense wasn't able to do much offensively as they were outrebounded and turned the ball over several times. They did, however, score back-to-back baskets for the first, and only time at the midway point of the second quarter when Sanchez made the first of two free throws and then rebounded her own missed shot for two points.
"We have girls who are 5-7 and they are averaging double-digit rebounds because they work to get in position and they want it. Getting underneath the boards, clearing their spot and doing what they need to do. They did a fantastic job tonight," Myers said. "The girls work very hard. When they step on the floor, the fun and games are over. It's all business with them."
The third quarter saw an offensive surge for Faith Academy as Grevey led the Lady Cougars to a 12-point quarter, but didn't get on the scoreboard until after two minutes of action and seven points by the Lady Flyers. However, St. Joseph's offense was firing on all cylinders as Marshall led the offense to a 44-25 lead.
The Lady Flyers ended the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run.
"These early wins set the tone for rest of year," Myers said. "Winning breeds winning and I think this can carry over to our upcoming tournaments and the rest of the season."
Earlier in the day, St. Joseph punched its ticket to the classic championship with a 55-33 victory over St. Andrews. Marshall continued her dominance in the tournament with 20 points. Chloe Shoemake finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Iris Young had 10.
Despite their showing in the tournament finale, Lemke saw improvement in Faith over the weekend.
"Everything improved today from where it was," he said.