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Brandt leads Fatima over Southeast

Fatima’s Morgan Brandt fires a pass to Annie Bock in the post during Sunday’s action in the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational at Rackers Fieldouse. Southeast’s Brianna Harrison (23) and Indica Hawkins (12) defend.

Fatima’s Morgan Brandt fires a pass to Annie Bock in the post during Sunday’s action in the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational at Rackers Fieldouse. Southeast’s Brianna Harrison (23) and Indica Hawkins (12) defend. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Morgan Brandt was on pace to break the record. Then she found herself on the bench.

Just a point shy of tying the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational benchmark for most points scored in a game, the Fatima junior was pulled from the contest with just more than two minutes remaining and her team comfortably ahead.

“It’s all right,” Brandt said of Fatima head coach Dustin Hays’ decision to pull her from the game during the Lady Comets’ 75-46 victory against Southeast of Oklahoma City, Okla., in the seventh-place game Sunday afternoon at Rackers Fieldhouse. “I have a cold so it’s all right. I’m not feeling so good.”

Brandt scored 36 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line, falling just short of the 37 points scored by O’Hara’s Kiera Hardy in 2001.

Still, the 36 points represent a career high for the Fatima shooting guard.

“It feels pretty good,” Brandt said. “Hard work pays off.”

Added Hays: “She was incredible for us, she really was. She is a girl that wants the ball. Whether it’s in crunch time or whatever, she wants it in her hands. To have that on your team is special. She’s a special player.”

Brandt got it going early, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers on her first two shots. She scored 13 points in the opening quarter to hand Fatima a 16-7 advantage.

“I was more confident in myself this game,” Brandt said. “I made some shots earlier so I decided to keep shooting.”

Brandt sat at 21 points at halftime on 5-of-7 shooting, including 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.

While Brandt was taking care of business on the offensive end, it was a team effort on the defensive side. Fatima’s lead ballooned to 33-14 at halftime thanks to the Lady Comets forcing 23 first-half turnovers (and 33 for the game) while holding Southeast to just 5-of-27 shooting (19 percent) in the opening half.

“We started out in a zone and we switched to a little bit more pressure,” Hays said. “We thought they were a little bit out of control, and we thought we could get them to turn the ball over quite a bit, which they did.”

While Fatima’s lead was too large at halftime this time around, the Lady Comets again struggled in the third quarter. Ahead 45-20 midway through the frame, Southeast rattled off nine straight points to get within 16. That’s as close as the Lady Spartans would get.

“In the second half, again, just something wasn’t the same,” Hays said, alluding to the fact Fatima blew seven- and five-point halftime leads against St. Joseph Benton and Eureka during the tournament’s first two days. “We talked about it again. Those third quarters against really good teams are going to kill you, and we saw that the past two days. I think they outscored us in the third by one point. That’s something that we have to fix. We have a couple days until we play Blair Oaks on (Jan. 4) to fix that.”

Fatima took a 53-35 lead into the final period. Brandt, an all-tournament team selection, picked up her 35th and 36th points on a pair of foul shots with 3:11 remaining that gave the Lady Comets a 68-43 lead. After one more offensive possession that ended without Brandt taking a shot, it was off to the bench for the rest of the way.

Fatima held its biggest advantage at 75-45 on two free throws from Christine Brunnert with 1:11 remaining.

Leah Kesel added 11 points for the Lady Comets, while Annie Bock pulled down a whopping 18 rebounds.

Jenay Bojorquez, an all-tournament team selection, paced Southeast (0-6) with 17 points, while Daevion Nelson added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“As far as this tournament goes we wanted more wins, yes, but overall we learned a lot and this tournament has been a very good experience for us,” Hays said.

Fatima (5-3), a team with just one senior — starting guard Logan Abbott — will be back in the tournament next season.

“We’d love to come back and obviously get more than one win, first of all,” Hays said. “We have a group that is primarily juniors. They got to see what this tournament is like, they got to see how fun this tournament is. They want to come back and they want to be in that championship game on the last night.”

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