St. Joseph’s Academy remembered; it didn’t need Hickman fans to remind them.
The Angels withstood the Kewpies’ rally and taunts of “remember the last game” to win the Class 5 championship game 56-44 on Saturday at Hearnes Center.
On Jan. 19, Hickman overcame an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit and beat the Angels 48-46.
The loss ended a 19-game winning streak for the Kewpies (30-2), ranked ninth in the USA Today poll.
“These kids were about getting the opportunity to play Hickman again and take care of some unfinished business,” St. Joseph’s coach Julie Matheny said. “That was the game plan.”
It wasn’t as easy as it hoped; Hickman’s Amy Bolerjack made sure of that.
Trailing 46-33 with 3:57 left, Bolerjack drove the length of the court and scored.
On St. Joseph’s next possession, Bolerjack stole Laura Heidenreich’s inbounds pass and scored, bringing the Hickman faithful to their feet.
“I definitely thought we had a shot considering we were only down by 14 before that point,” Bolerjack said.
Under intense full-court pressure, St. Joseph’s (26-4) didn’t fold. Kelsey Luna found Mackenzie Stirmlinger for a wide-open layup with 3:18 left.
“We knew we had been in that same situation before,” Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said. “We got some turnovers, we got some good looks, and they got a couple of long passes past us and they converted those layups. I thought that was really, really key.
“Had we gotten maybe one more turnover and not a long pass like that, maybe they miss a layup, I think the snowball would have started.”
Hickman cut the lead to 48-39 with 2:59 left, and Luna’s missed free throw gave it a chance to move closer.
Senior center Lauren Harris rebounded Bolerjack’s missed 3-pointer and was fouled. She missed the first free throw of the one-and-one. Nine was as close as Hickman would get.
“They gave us some opportunities on missed free throws,” Mirts said. “But we never seemed to get over the hump and convert, hit a 3 or something like that, to get a little bit of momentum to cut that lead to six or seven.”
St. Joseph’s Erin McCarthy, a 6-foot-5 center, said it wasn’t until about 10 seconds were left that she could breathe easy and Matheny agreed.
“Boy, there were some sudden flashbacks,” Matheny said. “With 5:43 in the fourth quarter there were all sorts of flashbacks, even with 3:38. Even with 30 seconds, Bobby (Goessing) turned to me and said, ‘Are you comfortable yet,’ and I said, ‘Aaah.’”
Mirts said the first half had the marking of a close game. St. Joseph’s jumped out to a 12-6 first-quarter lead, but Hickman responded with a 10-0 run in the next three minutes.
The teams traded leads until Luna made a 3-pointer at the end of the first half, giving the Angels a 25-23 lead.
St. Joseph’s extended its lead in the third quarter. McCarthy scored eight of her game-high 22 points in the quarter.
Hickman was 1-for-10 from the field in the third quarter. Bolerjack finished with 14 and Stephanie Burger added 10.
“It’s about effort and we got a lot of it for 32 whole minutes, not just three and a half quarters,” Matheney said.
The Angels lost to Springfield Kickapoo 51-46 in the 2003 Class 5 championship game.