Defense leads Hermann past Fatima

COLUMBIA — Dustin Hays thought his Fatima Lady Comets might have been a little too passive against the best team in the state.

Hermann, ranked first in Class 3, trotted out an active 2-3 zone complete with quick feet and even quicker hands.

“That had a lot to do with it,” Hays said after Fatima dropped a 45-38 decision Sunday afternoon to Hermann in the MFA Oil/BreakTime Shotout at Mizzou Arena. “There were some holes inside on that 2-3 zone that we wanted to attack, we just didn’t for some reason.”

Hays saw the point to attack.

“The high post was open all game long,” he said. “We thought they’d probably come 2-3 zone into this game because that’s what they did against us last year. We saw that opening and we had to attack it. When we got it there good things happened. We just didn’t get it there enough.”

Hermann’s defense had a little something to do with that though.

“Corinne Lane is an all-state player,” Hays said of the game MVP who finished with a game-high 18 points along with four steals and countless deflections. “She has very quick hands and that caused a lot of problems for us last year and I think there was some hesitancy there in not attacking and not getting it into the high post.”

Fatima opened the game on a 10-2 run, punctuated by a layup and a 3-pointer from Morgan Brandt that prompted a Hermann timeout with 2:11 left in the first quarter. The Lady Comets held the Lady Bearcats to just two points in the first 6:04 of the contest.

Hermann then used 3-pointers from Tesla Ruediger, Lane and Kali Stiers on three straight possessions to close the gap. The first quarter ended tied at 13.

“We had them down 10-2, they called a timeout and then defensively we let down,” Hays said. “They hit two or three 3s there right in a row.”

It was a matter of treading water for Fatima in the second quarter. With starters Brandt, Annie Bock and Kate Massman missing a majority of the frame with foul trouble, it was up to the Lady Comet’s defense and bench to keep the game close. Mission accomplished, as Hermann led just 20-18 at halftime.

“We got in foul trouble there in the second quarter,” Hays said. “That kind of stalled us out a little bit.”

The third quarter was the difference. Ahead 30-26, four points from Ruediger gave Hermann its largest lead of the game. The Bearcats had a 34-27 edge going into the final period.

“The third quarter was the difference,” Hays said. “They beat us 14-9 in the third quarter. Everything else was pretty even.”

Fatima managed to cut the deficit to 39-35 and had possession of the ball with less than four minutes to play before turning the ball over. That’s as close as the Lady Comets could get.

“We had a lot of turnovers but a few down the stretch there that were pretty important,” Hays said.

Ruediger added 11 points for the Lady Bearcats (14-0).

“They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason,” Hays said.

Bock paced Fatima with 10 points and seven rebounds. Brandt added nine points.

Fatima (10-5) hosts Eugene on Thursday.

“Defensively you hold Hermann to 45 points you have to be happy with that effort,” Hays said. “Offensively when we did attack there were some good things that happened. We just have to get back to work and continuing on those things.”

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