Two teams needed to get inside Saturday, but only one held the key.
The St. Joseph’s Academy Angels beat the Hickman Kewpies 56-44 in the Class 5 girls’ basketball title game at Hearnes Center.
St. Joseph’s (26-4) blocked the passing lanes all night to force Hickman (30-2) into a perimeter shooting game. As a result, the Kewpies shot 40.9 percent.
Kaela Rorvig and Jodi Bolerjack each made two shots in the game, and neither made a 3-pointer.
Hickman coach Tonya Mirts said it was not her team’s night for shooting.
“Frankly, I suppose we feel a lot like Lee’s Summit last night,” she said. “(We had) a lot of shots that didn’t go in. We went through a long stretch in the third quarter where we had a lot of open jump shots, and we’ve got a lot of good jump shot shooters and nothing fell.
“Obviously, St. Joe’s put a lot of pressure on us; we were further away from the basket than we normally are.”
The Angels, on the other hand, went inside with ease. Erin McCarthy, a junior center, led all scorers with 22 points and had eight rebounds.
St. Joseph’s coach Julie Matheny said she was pleased with McCarthy’s performance.
“Erin really felt confident today on the offensive end of the floor,” Matheny said. “She even asked for the ball, even nicely. It makes us all go.”
Mirts said St. Joseph’s success on the perimeter lead to its success inside.
“It’s difficult when you have four perimeter players who can score so well,” she said. “They’ve got a kid that’s 6-5, and I thought (Lauren) Harris did a good job on her most of the night, but she did get some good looks. I think if they wouldn’t have hit the 3s early in the game … that gave her a lot of room to maneuver.”
St. Joseph’s appeared to dominate inside all game, but it was outrebounded offensively 5-1 in the first half. This caused some team members to have flashbacks to the 2003 Class 5 championship game, where it was dominated on the boards and lost to Springfield Kickapoo 51-46.
McCarthy said that she wanted to make sure not to have a poor rebounding performance in the second half this time.
“About a year ago, we didn’t do so well in rebounding,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we did a little better than, I think it was what, 10 against one last year in the first half, and I didn’t want to hear that speech again. Everyone worked hard trying to avoid it.”
Mirts said St. Joseph’s deserved the title.
“I thought they played great,” she said. “The winner of a state championship should have a great game, and St. Joe’s played good.”