The Helias Lady Crusaders used a pair of big third quarters last week to claim the district tournament championship.
In tonight's Class 4 sectional, they're going to meet a team that likes the third quarter as well as the Lady Crusaders (16-11) take on the St. Charles West Lady Warriors (22-5). Game time is 6 p.m. at Troy Buchanan High School.
Helias overcame slow starts in winning its two District 8 Tournament contests. In the semifinals, Helias trailed 17-12 at the half against Fulton before posting a 46-36 victory. In last Friday's title game against host Kirksville, it was tied at 14 at the break before Helias finished with a 41-31 victory.
St. Charles West used a 12-5 run in the third quarter last Friday to begin to pull away to a 61-45 victory against St. Dominic in the District 7 Tournament title game for its eighth straight win. The district title was the first since 2004 for St. Charles West, a member of the Gateway North Conference.
Kacy Eschweiler is the top player for the Lady Warriors. The 6-2 junior, who is receiving attention from NCAA Division I schools, had game-high totals of 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Warriors in the district title victory. Those nearly matched her per-game averages of 23.7 points and 11.9 rebounds.
Emma Poindexter (5-9, fr.) is next in scoring with 9.1 points per game, while Jessie Schmidt (5-10, jr.) is totaling 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a contest.
Mai Nienhueser (6-1, soph.) tops the Lady Crusaders in scoring (10.8) and is second in rebounding (7.5). Meghan Nappier (5-7, sr.) is next in scoring at 8.0, followed by Darcy Baird (6-1, jr.) at 6.8. Baird leads in rebounding at 8.1 per contest.
Helias and St. Charles West both finished 1-2 in the Union Tournament in mid-January. St. Charles West finished fourth, while Helias was sixth.
This is third trip in four years to the sectional round for the Lady Crusaders.
In 2012, Helias defeated St. Francis Borgia 54-41 before losing to eventual state champion Republic in the quarterfinals. In 2011, Helias lost to Borgia 47-34. Borgia finished third in the state tournament that season.
Tonight's winner will take on either Incarnate Word (27-1) or MICDS (24-1) in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Francis Howell High School.