Victories Thursday by Hermann and Sullivan allowed those two schools to share the Four Rivers Conference girls basketball title.
Heading into the final night of league play, as many as four teams could have shared the title with the right results. But, in the end, it was the two teams who led the FRC going into the last evening who ended up splitting the crown.
“I think it’s quite an accomplishment this year with the quality of teams we have in the conference,” Hermann Head Coach Todd Anderson said. “To be able to at least get a part of the title is pretty special.”
Hermann (21-4, 6-1) knocked out Union (15-8, 4-3) on the road Thursday, 58-29.
“We knew coming in that Union has a nice team,” Anderson said. “Never, in a million years, would I have predicted a score like this. Our kids played as well as they have played all year. They hit shots, defended well and did a nice job on the boards. This was the best four quarters of basketball we’ve played all year.”
Union Head Coach Grant Young said the result was extremely unexpected.
“I hate to say, but I think our hearts just got broke,” Young said, referring to Valentine’s Day. “It showed how much they wanted to be conference champs and they came out with a purpose.”
Young lauded Hermann’s performance.
“They’ve got a real good team,” Young said. “There’s a reason they’re 21-4 and conference champs.”
Sullivan (20-3, 6-1) shared the title with a 58-55 win in Phelps County over St. James (21-4, 4-3).
Also sharing third place in the FRC standings was Pacific (18-5, 4-3), which beat St. Clair (10-13, 1-6).
New Haven (15-10, 2-5) secured sixth place with an overtime win over Owensville (12-12, 1-6).
While Hermann controlled the game, Union had its chances.
Hermann jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but Union cut the gap to one point after eight minutes of action, 9-8.
“In the first quarter, we had a lot of very good opportunities that we missed,” Young said. “I thought we should have taken advantage of the opportunity. (Jamie) Gleeson got two quick fouls. We didn’t take advantage of it.”
Only one player, Rachael Bassett, scored in the first quarter for Union. That was something which ended up hurting the Lady ’Cats soon after that.
Hermann established its domination with a 24-7 second quarter, taking a 33-15 lead to the locker room at the intermission.
“We were down one after a quarter and they go on a 24-7 run going to halftime,” Young said. “We sunk down and got frustrated. We took it upon ourselves missing shots. We were getting frustrated on the offensive end and not defending on the other end. We overplayed at times on the defensive end and didn’t protect the basket.”
And if the outcome wasn’t determined at the half, Hermann took care of any doubts in the third quarter, leading 53-23 heading into the final quarter.
Union was able to stop the running clock in the final quarter, but the damage was done.
The Lady Bearcats got things done on both ends of the court. Hermann hit seven three-point baskets with four different players hitting from outside the arc.
“When you can make shots, that makes it a lot easier on offense,” Anderson said. “We had several different kids step up. It’s tough to defend when you have multiple kids who are hot at the same time.”
Kali Stiers led the way with three while Tesla Ruediger hit two. Karinne Lane and Kirsten Leimkuehler hit one three-point basket apiece.
“The threes they hit were back-breakers,” Young said. “They got good, open looks and we didn’t rotate on our matchup. They got extra looks with offensive rebounds.”
And Hermann pulled down 37 rebounds.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult task going in,” Anderson said about the defense. “Union is so quick. They have tremendous speed and attack well off the dribble. The kids did a nice job playing defense.”
Two players, Jamie Gleeson and Lane each hit double digits in rebounds and ended with double-doubles.
Gleeson had 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with two assists.
“She does a really nice job,” Anderson said. “She’s so strong with the ball and athletic. She’s developed into a tough post player.”
Lane scored 10 points with 16 rebounds, seven assists and seven steals.
“She’s just solid and reliable,” Anderson said. “Most nights, you’re going to look and she’s going to be in double digits in scoring, have about six to eight rebounds, five or six steals and five or six assists. She is just solid across the board.”
Leimkuehler closed with 12 points, two assists and one rebound.
“Kirsten has stepped up and really played well for us over the last few weeks,” said Anderson. “She’s a good perimeter shooter. Lately, she’s been more willing to attack the basket and that makes a big difference. Because of that, she’s gotten to the free-throw line more often lately. She’s doing a nice job.”
Ruediger scored nine points while adding four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Stiers had nine points, three rebounds and two assists.
Hayley Stiers scored three points with three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Makaley Schneider scored one point.
Also playing were Cameron Hackmann and Kara Kley.
Union would have been lost without Bassett. Besides scoring all eight of Union’s first quarter points, she ended the game with 14 points. She went 6-6 from the free-throw line.
“She had all eight of our points in the first quarter,” Young said. “In the second quarter, she was the only one still scoring.”
Abbie Brack scored four points and hit one of the two three-point baskets for Union.
Kaila AuBuchon scored three points.
Jillian Johnston hit the other three-point basket, which stopped the running clock in the fourth quarter.
Alyssa Coons and Bethany Coons scored two points apiece.
Whitney Vitt ended with one point.
Others playing were Bri Clark, Anna Houston, Briana Lakebrink, Ali Overstreet and Maddy Weinhold.
“We’ve lost three of our last five games,” Young said. “We’ve got to figure this out really quick. The season’s almost over. We’ve got to find that urgency to get mentally tough to play possession by possession. We can’t get into panic mode if we get down. We’ve got to stay calm.”