St. Pius X plays big down low to beat Fatima

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Fatima Comets are known for their prolific outside shooting game.

The St. Pius X Warriors knew that. And decided the best way to defend Fatima outside was to concentrate their defense inside.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge with the big man they had inside,” St. Pius X senior guard Brian Kauffman said after the Warriors defeated the Comets 58-46 in the Class 3 semifinals at Mizzou Arena.

“But we knew if we came out and played our game, we could get the job done and that’s what we did. We got the key stops we needed.”

Chad Stegeman is Fatima’s big man. The 6-8 senior finished with a double-double Thursday, totaling 10 points and 10 rebounds. But he paid the price for being the center of attention.

“We did a great job on Stegeman,” St. Pius X head coach Chad Wright said. “I think we went through 12 or 13 fouls on him, We did a great job of keeping him away from the basket.”

It started with some prep work.

“All the credit in the world to this guy,” Kauffman said, wrapping his arm around Wright. “He scouted great, we knew what they were going to try to do and what we had to do to stop it.”

When the Comets tried to run their halfcourt offense against the Warriors, it seemed like there were two St. Pius defenders waiting for the ball to get to Stegeman.

“We couldn’t get into any of our sets,” Fatima coach Ryan Robertson said. “It seemed like every time we got the ball into Chad, they would double him.”

And with Stegeman having to fight for the ball on nearly every possession, it was tough for the Comets to get into rhythm.

“There was never any offensive flow for us,” Robertson said.

The Warriors finished with 13 steals as the Comets totaled 23 turnovers.

Fatima (28-2) will play Lutheran North (19-12) at noon Friday in the third-place game at Mizzou Arena. St. Pius X (22-6), a Kansas City school, will face Madison College Prep (30-2) for the title at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Mizzou Arena.

For updates on Friday’s Fatima game, follow Tony Hawley on Twitter at @tony_hawley.

Related article:

Tough fourth quarter dooms Fatima in semifinal loss

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