It wasn’t the start Stacia Houlihan expected from her St. Francis Borgia Regional basketball Lady Knights.
Hosting Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division newcomer Tolton Catholic of Columbia, the Lady Knights fell behind, 6-0.
But, after a timeout, Borgia was quickly back to level terms and soon took the lead on the way to a 62-42 victory.
Borgia improved to 5-3 overall, 3-0 in the AAA Large. Tolton Catholic dropped to 3-8 overall, 0-2 in the league.
So what wisdom did Houlihan impart to her team during the crucial timeout?
“I just reminded them how much I like them and that they’ve worked so hard that they needed to show that on the court,” Houlihan said. “We’ve been rusty and this is our first game back from the break. We’re trying to get them going again. We have a couple of post players we thought could dominate the game at times. Defensively, we’re giving up too many easy layups.”
The comeback started with a Lynnae Grus basket and soon after Dani Kimminau and Avery Lackey scored to tie it at 6-6, just 1:41 after Houlihan’s timeout. Borgia applied a pressure defense, which forced turnovers and allowed the Lady Knights to take the momentum.
Tolton’s final lead was 9-8, but Grace Gettemeier scored five points in a row to put Borgia back on top for good.
“Thank goodness Grace Gettemeier took over the game at times and went on a run on her own to get everybody else going.”
By the end of the first quarter, Borgia held an 18-14 edge. It was 35-22 at the half.
Just before the half, the Lady Knights showed the total turnaround from early in the game. Borgia fought to secure a tie-up with under five seconds to play in the half. After the first attempt was knocked out of bounds, Borgia got the ball to Lackey on the right side of the court and she knocked down a three-point shot at the buzzer to give Borgia an extra lift going to the locker room.
“We know she can shoot that,” Houlihan said. “We would like for her to be around the rim a little bit more. We know she’s capable of making that to go ahead and take that shot.”
The Lady Knights held a 47-37 advantage through three quarters.
Gettemeier was Borgia’s top scorer with 19 points and she knocked down three of her team’s seven three-point baskets.
Lackey picked up her play in the second half to close out with 13 points.
Grus netted 10 to give Borgia three scorers in double digits.
Kimminau closed with nine points and hit one three-point basket.
“Dani has been there all season for us,” Houlihan said. “She hit a big three in the game tonight.”
Julia Struckhoff scored six points while Anya Castelli added four and Josie Lindemann netted one.
“Julia Struckhoff picks and chooses her times to shoot,” Houlihan said. “We would like to see her shoot a little more. She does a great job defensively as well. Anya Castelli stepped in and got some big minutes tonight. All-around, it was a good team effort, which is what we’ve been having all season long.”
For the game, Borgia went 7-10 from the free-throw line.
Tolton was paced by Amber Wright, who scored 17 points.
Sophia Elfrink was next with 13 points.
Emily Gall was next with six points while Lizzy Wright posted five. Sophie Angel knocked down a three-point basket for her contribution.
Tolton hit four three-point baskets and went 6-8 from the free-throw line.
“It was a pretty persistent Tolton team,” Houlihan said. “We knew coming into the game that they like to shoot threes. A team that can throw up a bunch of threes is never out of a game with that kind of a game changer.”
The Lady Knights return to action Saturday in the St. Joseph’s Academy Shootout, taking on Kirkwood at 11:30 a.m.
“We know that if we want to be looked at as a pretty good contender, we have to play well Saturday,” Houlihan said.