There was a reason the Cardinal Ritter Lady Lions were seeded first at the Borgia Competitive Edge Girls Basketball Tournament.
Trailing host Borgia by 12 points midway through the second quarter, the Lady Lions roared back to win the championship game Saturday, 51-43.
“Coming into this tournament, we knew Cardinal Ritter was the best team and we would have to play a perfect game to beat them,” Borgia Head Coach Stacia Houlihan said. “We played a perfect half, but not a perfect four quarters.”
Cardinal Ritter (14-4), which blew out Parkway South in the semifinals, led for much of the first quarter before Borgia (9-11) was able to catch up and hang on after eight minutes, 14-14.
But what came next surprised almost everyone in attendance.
Borgia added to its final two points of the first quarter with the first 12 points of the second quarter to take a 26-14 lead after senior Cassidy Moss knocked down a three-point shot.
But that just woke up the Lady Lions. Cardinal Ritter ratcheted up the pressure and scored the next six points quickly. Borgia was able to maintain a five-point lead at the intermission, 28-23.
“A lot of it has to do with the amount of pressure they put on us and that we had to rush shots when we did get them,” Houlihan said. “In the first half, we could get our feet under us and make a nice shot. In the second half, our feet were out of it.”
Cardinal Ritter kept up the momentum and tied it, 28-28, when junior DeAnna Wilson completed a three-point play with 6:38 to go in the quarter.
Wilson, the tournament MVP, was a focal point in the Cardinal Ritter attack. She put the Lady Lions on top with 3:21 to play in the quarter, 34-32, and Cardinal Ritter didn’t trail after that.
The third quarter ended with Cardinal Ritter turning a five-point deficit into a five-point lead, 38-33.
There was a little bit of everything, including Lynnae Grus having a shot stuck between the backboard and rim.
Borgia stayed in the game for much of the final quarter before Cardinal Ritter put it away at the stripe.
“They’re a good team and I liked the way we battled all the way through,” said Houlihan.
Wilson was the game’s leading scorer with 23 of her team’s 51 points. She also had nine rebounds, an assist, a blocked shot and a steal.
Kori Tomlin was next with 14 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals. Tomlin was named to the all-tournament team.
Mecca Hamm-Bey scored five points with two assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Lauren Boyd scored four points with four rebounds.
Ryann Haynes had three points with three assists, three steals and a rebound. She made the all-tournament team.
Kristen Booker added two points and four rebounds.
Cardinal Ritter hit two three-point baskets and went 11-20 from the free-throw line.
Moss led Borgia in scoring with 17 points and also had six rebounds, three steals, one assist and a blocked shot. She was 10-13 from the free-throw line and made the all-tournament team.
Grace Gettemeier was next in scoring with 11 points and also had five rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal. She also made the all-tournament team.
Avery Lackey netted nine points with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We still have a freshman on the floor most of the time who has to deal with a lot of learning through this process,” Houlihan said. “Avery did a great job all the way through the game. I’m just proud of the way this team came together.”
Julia Struckhoff posted six points with three rebounds and a steal.
Anya Castelli had one assist. Grus had an assist and a rebound.
The Lady Knights hit five three-point baskets and went 16-23 from the free-throw line.
“I think it’s all positives for us,” Houlihan said about the tournament experience. “We would have liked to have won the championship, but coming out of this slow start we had and that we’re inching toward the playoffs, there are a lot of positives to build on going into the last part of the season with a lot of conference opponents.”