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Strong performance on FTs propels Helias girls to title

Strong performance on FTs propels Helias girls to title

March 7th, 2014 in News

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. - The free-throw line has not been a friend of the Helias Lady Crusaders this season.

But the pair patched things up in the second half Friday night.

"We've had our free-throw woes this season, but we were great at the line in the final two quarters," Helias coach Doug Light said after the top-seeded Lady Crusaders claimed the Class 4 District 8 title with a 41-31 victory against the Kirksville Lady Tigers.

The Lady Crusaders missed 17 free throws in a semifinal win Thursday night, then were just 4-of-11 from the stripe in the first half Friday. But Helias hit 13-of-15 in the second half on its way to the 10-point win.

"That really changed the game for us," Light said.

Kirksville (12-14) led 9-8 after one quarter. It was tied at 14 at halftime before Helias pulled away to a 27-19 advantage after three periods.

A great defensive effort by a pair of Helias guards also played a big role in the victory.

"Between Meghan Nappier and Bayley Francka taking turns guarding their best player, they erased her," Light said.

Mai Nienhueser paced Helias with 12 points. Katlyn Cowell added 10, while Luci Francka had seven points and Kelsi Bernskoetter totaled six on a pair of early 3-pointers.

With the win, Helias (16-11) advances to Wednesday night's sectional game against the St. Charles West Lady Warriors (21-5) at Troy. Game time is 6 p.m.

It is Helias' third district title in the last four seasons.