Baird sends Helias past Mexico, 41-26

Helias' Darcy Baird and Mexico teammates Kelli Ingrum (left) and Karen Baker get tangled up as the three battle for a rebound Monday night at Rackers Fieldhouse.

Helias' Darcy Baird and Mexico teammates Kelli Ingrum (left) and Karen Baker get tangled up as the three battle for a rebound Monday night at Rackers Fieldhouse. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Once the Helias Lady Crusaders got one thing going, others followed.

Getting the ball inside to Darcy Baird keyed a 13-0 mid-second quarter run as the Lady Crusaders opened the season Monday night with a 41-26 victory against the Mexico Lady Bulldogs at Rackers Fieldhouse.

“We adjusted to what they were doing offensively by getting Darcy the ball,” Helias coach Doug Light said. “It got us going.”

Baird had seven points in the run, with three other Lady Crusaders recording a bucket each. The spurt turned an 11-9 deficit into a 22-11 Helias advantage.

“I think we have to take advantage of our ability to score inside and the kids recognized that,” Light said. “It got other parts of our offense going.”

Both teams struggled offensively in the early going. Mexico finally knocked the zeroes off the scoreboard with 4:45 left in the first quarter on a steal and layup by Karen Baker. That was Helias’ fifth turnover in a little more than three minutes of game time.

“It was a jump ball or a turnover early, but we got ourselves settled down,” Light said.

Helias trailed 6-5 after the first quarter.

The Lady Crusaders battled foul trouble as well, bringing all nine healthy players into action.

“It took all nine kids to get this win, they all played roles,” Light said. “And that’s what it’s going to take for us to be successful.”

Molly Sandbothe came off the bench to get five rebounds, all in the second quarter while Mai Nienhueser sat with foul trouble.

“Mai was a little frustrated at halftime, but she settled down and got back into the rhythm of the game,” Light said.

Helias held a 19-8 edge in rebounds at the break.

The Lady Crusaders led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, that coming at 34-16 after a 3-pointer by Meghan Nappier with three minutes remaining. But Helias didn’t score the rest of the quarter and its lead was cut to 34-20 heading into the final period.

“I thought Mexico had a little momentum at the end of the quarter, but we got it back pretty quickly,” Light said.

Nienhueser hit two free throws :35 into the fourth quarter to get the Helias lead back to 16. The two teams traded points the rest of the way.

Light said the Lady Crusaders did a decent job of playing with the double-digit advantage.

“I think we’ll get better at that, we did a couple of things we didn’t need to do, but we were all right,” he said.

Baird finished with 17 points to lead all scorers, 15 of which came in the first half. Nienhueser pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Danielle Baumgartner had seven points to pace Mexico (0-1).

Helias (1-0) is off until Saturday, Dec. 7 when it plays Moberly in the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.

In Monday’s junior varsity game, Helias posted a 44-23 victory against Mexico. Ashley Rehagen led Helias (1-0) with 15 points.

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