Playing against a Principia team that was 26-4 last season and reached the Class 3 state quarterfinals, the St. Clair Lady Bulldogs registered a 49-43 victory Monday in the opening round of the Clayton Round-Robin Tournament.

St. Clair’s final two games of the tournament are Wednesday against McCluer North at 5 p.m. and Thursday against Clayton at 6:30 p.m.

“I was really proud of the way we played. The girls played really hard and adjusted well defensively,” said St. Clair Head Coach Jena Carroll. “The key to our win was getting to the line. We did a good job of drawing fouls and getting a few of their key players in foul trouble.”

The game was close most of the way.

The score was tied 10-10 after one quarter until St. Clair secured a 24-21 halftime advantage.

The Lady Bulldogs were 8-11 from the free-throw line in the second quarter. They scored a total of 16 points from the charity stripe.

“It was back-and-forth in the first quarter. We pulled ahead during the second quarter by getting to the free-throw line,” Carroll said. “Getting a couple of their key players in early foul trouble helped us pull ahead.”

Principia held a 28-27 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs ended the period with an 8-2 run to grab a 35-30 advantage heading to the final eight minutes.

St. Clair held on by outscoring Principia in the fourth quarter, 14-13.

“They had some momentum going into halftime after hitting a three to bring them to within three points. They pulled ahead early in the third quarter,” Carroll said. “During the fourth quarter, we just worked hard to try and maintain a lead. Hitting some late free throws helped seal the win.”

Karissa Hoffman led a balanced Lady Bulldogs scoring attack with 11 points.

Katelyn Guehne finished the game with nine points.

Sam Deason collected seven points and 11 rebounds.

Allison Hinson also scored seven points.

Kayla Klenke recorded six points and 13 rebounds.

Alicia York netted four points.

Hannah Molkenbur and Anna Reed both scored two points.

“It was a good start to our season,” Carroll said. “It’s nice to get a win and to get a chance to see what areas we need to work on.”

Following the Clayton Tournament, St. Clair plays its home opener Friday, Dec. 7, against Waynesville at 6 p.m.