With a third-place finish at the U.S. Bank Rolla Girls Basketball Tournament, the St. Clair Lady Bulldogs hope to be turning the corner.
In a physical, hard-fought third-place contest, St. Clair took control against Rolla on Saturday for a 52-45 victory.
“I think we’re making progress. Before, it was kind of just waiting for things to happen. Now we’re at a point where we’re trying to make things happen,” said St. Clair Head Coach Jena Carroll. “Our adjustments are coming easier. We’re starting to see the court better from our guards to our post players. Our assists have gone up just in this tournament. It’s nice to play three days in a row where you can make your adjustments and then put them into play right away.”
St. Clair (3-5) lost to Waynesville Friday in the championship semifinals, 51-43.
St. James (10-1) claimed the tournament crown with a 61-43 victory Saturday over Waynesville.
Ashlee Marlatt of the Lady Tigers was named the MVP of the tournament. Devin Fuhring and Alexis Uffmann of St. James also were on the all-tournament squad.
Karissa Hoffman represented St. Clair on the all-tournament team.
“This is a tough tournament. To come out with third place behind two teams, St. James and Waynesville, that are really good, I’m really proud of our effort,” Carroll said. “We could have backed down to Rolla. They’re a good team. We held our own and played a full four quarters.”
On the boys side of the U.S. Bank Rolla Tournament, Waynesville defeated Rolla Saturday in the championship game, 67-54.
Waynesville’s Juwan Morgan was named the tournament’s MVP.
St. Clair trailed Rolla 24-22 with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
From there, St. Clair went on a 16-4 run over the next five minutes of the game, which made the difference.
St. Clair led by as many as 10 points, 45-35, with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It was a very physical game. There were a lot of hand checks and other stuff underneath the basket. We continued to fight like we should,” said Carroll. “I was really proud of the girls. We don’t see a lot of games as physical as this was. It’s hard to prepare for that at practice. The girls did a good job stepping up and holding their own.”
Katelyn Guehne led three St. Clair players in double figures with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“Guehne really broke out in this tournament. She’s kind of laid back and lets other kids do things,” Carroll said. “In this tournament, she really stepped up and played great.”
Allison Hinson finished with 12 points. Hoffman added 11 points.
Alicia York and Kelsey Wachter both scored five points. Halley Cokley added two points. Miranda Murphy scored one point.
Sam Deason and Emily Presley also played.
“This was the first time that our post players showed that they can work together like that. We’ve been working on it, so that’s good,” Carroll said. “Our guards will come around when they get more comfortable shooting the ball.”
St. Clair led 11-8 after one quarter and Rolla took a 21-20 advantage into halftime. St. Clair led 30-24 after three quarters.
Both teams turned up their defensive pressure in the second half, which resulted in steals on defense and missed opportunities on offense.
“We really struggled to score in the third quarter. The only reason we stayed in the game was because of our defense. We definitely picked it up,” Carroll said. “We changed things up at halftime, trying to throw them off, and it seemed to work. Our rotation looked good. Our blocking out and rebounding looked really good.”
In the semifinal contest, Waynesville took control in the second half, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs, 32-21.
“We played OK against Waynesville. We put them on the free-throw line way too many times late in the game,” Carroll said. “We were ahead 22-19 at halftime, but we really struggled to score in the fourth quarter. A lot of their points in the fourth quarter came on free throws when we were forced to foul. Offensively, we got away from what was working. Waynesville is a really good team.”
Guehne led St. Clair in scoring with 10 points. Hinson added nine points.
Hoffman and Wachter both scored eight points. York chipped in with six points. Deason had two points.
“We still have one more tournament, the Hermann Tournament at the end of January,” Carroll said. “We do not have an easy game left on our schedule. That’s OK. That’s what makes us better for the end of the season.”