St. Joseph’s pressure defense leads Angels past Helias

Heiias guard Luci Francka drives around St. Joseph Academy’s Nikki Tracy (23) during Wednesday’s game at Rackers Fieldhouse.

Heiias guard Luci Francka drives around St. Joseph Academy’s Nikki Tracy (23) during Wednesday’s game at Rackers Fieldhouse. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Under pressure, they started to press.

That’s the recipe for what happened after that.

The St. Joseph’s Academy Angels jumped into a pressure defense midway through the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Helias Lady Crusaders at Rackers Fieldhouse. That keyed a strong 12-minute stretch for the Angels, who defeated the Lady Crusaders 59-43.

“We didn’t react to it very well,” Helias coach Doug Light said. “It was everyone, across the board. We were leaving shooters open, taking bad shots, making mistakes we don’t normally make.

“It was some crazy stuff.”

A 3-pointer by Kelsi Bernskoetter, her second of the game, with 4:55 left in the first quarter gave Helias an 8-4 lead. But after Natalie Sims scored on the ensuing possession for St. Joseph’s Academy, the Angels jumped into a full-court pressure defense.

Things went awry from there for the Lady Crusaders. Helias was outscored 29-6 the remainder of the half as St. Joseph’s took a 35-14 advantage into intermission.

“We couldn’t hit a shot and they started hitting every shot they put up,” Light said.

A layup by Katlyn Cowell with a minute left in the first quarter pulled Helias into a tie at 13. That was Helias’ last basket until Darcy Baird’s layup 3:05 into the second half.

The Angels outscored the Lady Crusaders 20-1 in the second quarter. St. Joseph’s Academy was 8-of-11 from the field in the quarter, while Helias was 0-for-9.

“They got to every 50-50 ball, we got outrebounded, there wasn’t anything we did that was good,” Light said in explaining the second quarter.

It was a somber Helias locker room at the half.

“We were in danger of getting running clocked,” Light said.

The running clock kicks in during the fourth quarter if a team is ahead by 30 or more points. There was never a threat of that happening.

“We keep digging these holes for ourselves,” Light said. “Now we fought back, which was good to see, but I think they may have started to lose their edge a little bit with that lead while we were battling.”

The teams eached scored 12 points in the third quarter and it was 47-26 heading into the final period. Helias got as close as 16 points on a couple of occasions in the fourth quarter, including the final margin.

“You take that second quarter out of the game and we win,” Light said with a wry smile. “But that never seems to happen.”

Sims paced the Angels (8-11) with 23 points. Lexi Gorman added 13. The five starters were the only players to score for St. Joseph’s Academy, which hit eight 3-pointers in the victory.

Mai Nienhueser totaled 11 points and nine rebounds to lead Helias (11-5), who will play a rescheduled game tonight at Cuba.

“(Cuba) called us and wanted to play, which tells you something,” Light said. “We’re going to have to play well.”

In Wednesday’s junior varsity game, St. Joseph’s Academy broke away in the second half for a 45-33 victory against Helias. The game was tied at 20 at intermission. Ashley Rehagen had 10 points to lead Helias.

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