It came down to a Four Rivers Conference showdown for third place at Rolla.
St. Clair’s Lady Bulldogs (6-5) won that showdown against St. James (6-6), 49-42, to finish third at the US Bank Rolla Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament Saturday.
While the game went back and forth with several lead changes early, St. Clair held the lead at the end of each quarter.
At the end of the first period, the Lady Bulldogs were ahead, 18-17. St. Clair held a slight three-point advantage, 28-25 at the half. In the third quarter, things started to open up as St. Clair took a 42-34 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
“I knew it was going to be a battle the whole way with as good as they are and the way they do things,” St. Clair Head Coach Mike Scheer said. “We needed to shoot the ball better than we did the first two games, which I think we did. I think we were a little better on our free throws.”
The game featured multiple stretches of shut-down defense from both teams, allowing one team or the other to go on long scoring runs for up to four minutes at a time, continually swinging the momentum like a pendulum.
St. Clair started on a 7-0 run in the first quarter. St. James scored the first eight points of the second quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs ended the first half with the final 10 points before the intermission.
“I was really happy when we changed defenses and started going man-to-man,” Scheer said. “I didn’t know how that was going to go. The girls did a good job and made it hard for them.”
Gracie Sohn was the top scorer for St. Clair with 12 points.
Alana Hinson netted 10 points.
Alohiliani Bursey scored nine points, followed by Hannah Machelett with seven, Haley Buscher and Erin York with four points each and Ally Newon at three points.
For St. James, Ashlyn Rinehart matched Sohn for the game high in points with 12.
Savanna Riccetti had the second most points for the Lady Tigers with eight.
Other St. James scorers included Bailey Wells (six points), Alyson Bullock (four), Mikaela Donnelly (three), Riley Whitener (three), Camille Bullock (two) and Hannah Marcee (two).
St. Clair defeated Waynesville, the defending tournament champion, before losing to Rolla in the semifinals to wind up in Saturday’s third-place game. St. James defeated Sedalia Smith-Cotton before losing to Licking in the semifinals.
Next up for St. Clair, the Lady Bulldogs will host North County on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.