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Defense leads Helias girls past St. Charles West

Defense leads Helias girls past St. Charles West

March 13th, 2014 in News

TROY, Mo. - The Helias girls basketball team knew it would be tough to shut down NCAA Division I prospect Kacy Eschweiler.

The Lady Crusaders didn't keep the 6-foot-2 junior off the scoreboard, but they did use a team effort to slow her down.

Helias limited Eschweiler to 11 points - 12 below her season average - as the Lady Crusaders went on to claim a 46-34 win against St. Charles West in a Class 4 sectional game Wednesday night at Troy Buchanan High School.

"I think we defended really well," Helias coach Doug Light said. "Eschweiler is such a tough player and I think we contained her pretty well. We tried to focus on her and still not let their 3-point shooters and their slashers get to the rim on us and hit shots.

"It took a lot of effort from a lot of kids to get in there and do all that."

Eschweiler was the only player to score in double figures for the Lady Warriors, who had an eight-game winning streak come to a close.

St. Charles West (22-6) was just 13-of-46 from the field, including 4-of-18 from beyond the arc, and 4-of-10 from the free-throw line.

"I thought we did a great job of shutting down their big scorers, fighting for loose balls and getting on the floor," Helias junior Molly Sandbothe said. "I thought we hustled really well."

Sandbothe came off the bench to score 10 points, six coming as part of a 10-0 run that gave Helias (17-11) a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Mai Nienhueser scored a game-high 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, while Kelsi Bernskoetter chipped in with nine points to lead the Lady Crusaders, who were 16-of-41 from the field and 10-of-21 from the charity stripe.

Darcy Baird was held scoreless, but played a key role in limiting the touches Eschweiler, who was averaging 23.7 points entering Tuesday's contest, was able to get on the offensive end.

"We had to be a team and come together," Nienhueser said. "Like coach Light says, "It takes five to make a fist.'"

More than five players made a difference in this one.

After a slow first quarter for both teams, Katlyn Cowell came off the bench and knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Helias an 11-8 lead entering the second period.

Nienhueser opened the second quarter with back-to-back buckets, while Bernskoetter and Molly Light followed by hitting consecutive 3s to cap a 17-3 run that gave the Lady Crusaders a 25-11 lead with 2:50 left in the period.

St. Charles West responded with a 6-0 run, but Helias still led 25-17 at halftime.

The Lady Warriors pulled within 30-26 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Helias killed the momentum in a hurry.

Luci Francka and Sandbothe, both reserves for Helias, combined to score the next 10 points to give the Lady Crusaders a 40-26 advantage with 4:35 to play in the fourth quarter.

They didn't look back from there.

"We just try to focus a lot and just try to make sure we run our offense right," Sandbothe said. "When we do that, we get good looks."

Helias entered the fourth quarter with a 34-26 lead and the Lady Crusaders maintained at least an eight-point cushion in the final eight minutes to put the Lady Warriors away.

St. Charles West, which was out-rebounded 41-30, was just 3-of-19 from the field in the final period.

"They had a lot of one-and-dones and that's huge in the game of basketball," Light said. "It's not the first shot that beats you, it's those second and third opportunities that will cause you problems."

Now, the Lady Crusaders hope their momentum continues.

Helias will play nationally ranked Incarnate Word Academy (28-1) in a Class 4 quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Frances Howell High School.

"We're definitely in high spirits," Sandbothe said. "I think we're playing at our best right now."

See also:

Late shot by Bax lifts Crusaders past St. Charles