Could there have been a better way to start the first-ever Peoples Bank Holiday Classic girls basketball tournament in Sullivan. City rivals Borgia and Washington took the floor in the event’s first contest Monday afternoon with Borgia advancing with a 49-31 victory.
“It was history,” said Borgia Head Coach Stacia Parsell. “We are making history every day. This is going to be a great tournament and we’re excited to be in it. To be on the winners’ side of the bracket is even better.”
Washington Head Coach Adam Fischer said it was an honor to compete in the first-ever tournament game.
“It was an honor to play in the first game ever of the Sullivan Tournament,” Fischer said. “Sullivan High School and the surrounding community have done an excellent job in starting this tournament. The school, Mr. (Sean) Erwin (Sullivan activities director), and Coach (Jason) Merkel have done an excellent job with recruiting teams to the tournament, and I look forward to playing in the tournament for years to come.”
The Lady Knights (4-2), seeded fourth, get the host team Sullivan (6-0) Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
“It’s always a good matchup with Sullivan,” said Parsell.
Washington (3-4) will take on University City (1-7) in the consolation semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“The key to beating a team like University City will be for us to come out and play our game,” Fischer said. “University City will want to pressure the ball and we will have to attack their pressure and get ourselves to the free-throw line. If we take care of the ball, and move the ball around to get the best shot, we will have some success against their pressure.”
In the other first-round games Monday, top-seeded Sullivan defeated University City, 68-11. Second-seeded Farmington edged Waynesville, 53-51, and sixth-seeded Owensville knocked off third-seeded Cuba, 48-21.
The contest was slow to develop as both teams struggled in the early going.
“Our girls came out and played really hard and handled their pressure real well tonight,” Fischer said. “The one thing we did not do well was taking care of the ball in the half court setting. When we did take care of the ball, we were unable to hit our shots when we were open.”
Borgia finally got the first basket, but Washington quickly replied to take the lead, 5-2.
“Every game for us has got to be a learning process,” Parsell said. “It just is about getting better with every game and every possession. And then we finally pulled away from Washington.”
The Lady Knights went on a nine-point run which lasted into the second quarter to take the lead for good.
“They can rebound really well,” Parsell said. “We were taking shots early in the game and being limited to one shot and then not getting anything out of it. Once we work the ball around a bit more, started getting better looks, that’s when things started to open up for us.”
Borgia was up 9-5 after eight minutes of action and then took charge through the second quarter.
Another six-point flurry, including a buzzer-beater by Katie Lindemann, gave the Lady Knights a 25-15 advantage at the intermission.
Borgia continued to add to the lead throughout the third quarter. The Lady Knights were up 39-25 after three quarters and went on to win by 18, 49-31.
Lindemann led the Lady Knights with a double-double, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds and two steals.
Janie Arand netted nine points while adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals before fouling out in the final 25 seconds.
Emily Grahl and Cassandra Halsted scored eight points apiece. Grahl also had three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Halsted scored half of her points from the free-throw line while adding a rebound and a steal.
Baylee Godat scored five points with a rebound and a steal.
Morgan Spradling netted two points with four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Also playing were Molly Arand (two assists and two steals), Madison Wehking (one assist) and Alexis Sine.
Washington was hampered with illness during the game, but Fischer said the Lady Jays were able to adapt.
“A few girls were playing out of their normal positions due to our illnesses, and they handled themselves pretty well,” Fischer said. “Playing out of their positions will only help us in the long run.”
Courtney Kedroski, Washington’s leading scorer on the season at 11.7 points per game, missed the contest due to illness. And Kirstie Leslie didn’t play the entire contest because she was sick. She netted four points.
Washington’s leading scorer was Kaitlin Evans with 10 points.
Freshman Paige Carpenter came through with six points.
Helena Ballmann scored three points.
Lady Jays scoring two points apiece were Megan Bauche, Megan Freitag and Rachel Kackley.