KAISER, Mo. - The Fatima Comets lost just about every major contributor from last season's Final Four team. Yet they were was no rebuilding year. Far from it.
Top-seeded Fatima blasted sixth-seeded Steeleville 69-43 to win the Class 3 District 9 Tournament championship Friday night.
"I told them after the game they're some of the scrappiest kids that we've had," Fatima head coach Ryan Robertson said. "You can't measure anything until you measure their heart, and they've got big ones. You can't be more proud of them."
The win completed a district title sweep for Fatima, as the Lady Comets opened the night by upsetting the No. 1 team in the state for the championship.
"Usually you don't have to talk much about getting kids up for the district title game," Robertson said. "After that (girls) game, the emotional level was at a place I hadn't seen before. I was worried they might be too fired up. But they came out guns a blazing."
The Comets sure did. Fatima went up 22-9 after one quarter, extended the advantage to 38-17 at halftime and took a 57-35 edge into the final period.
Zach Buscher paced the attack with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Tom Zeilman added 16 points and seven rebounds, while Jared Schulte chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds.
"We're playing ourselves every night and not somebody else," Robertson said. "If we're doing the things we're supposed to, we're tough to beat."
Fatima (19-8) advances to play the District 10 winner in a sectional game at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Missouri S&T in Rolla.
That game pits Hartville (24-2) against Liberty: Mountain View (20-5) today.
"Either way it's going to be a great team," Robertson said. "We're going to enjoy this one tonight and hopefully start getting some stuff together for them. Our guys are gritty and hopefully they'll come out (ready to play)."