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story.lead_photo.caption Lindsey Byers of Helias dribbles toward the basket as Mallorie Fick of Blair Oaks defends during a game last month at Rackers Fieldhouse. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

The Helias Lady Crusaders wrapped up their academic finals earlier this month.

They will face a three-day basketball test starting today in the Jefferson Bank Holiday Hoops Classic.

"This is a good measuring stick to see where we're at," Helias coach Alan Lepper said as the Lady Crusaders prepare to start the Classic this afternoon at Rackers Fieldhouse. "Playing the competition you see in the three days really shows you what is working for you and what you really need to work on as you try to win a district championship later this season."

Helias finished third in the Classic last year.

"Last year, this is the point of the season where we got on a bit of run," Lepper said. "We hope the same thing happens again this year."

Playing three games in three days can be a challenge. But the Lady Crusaders have already done that once this season when weather condensed the Sullivan Tournament into a three-day event.

The Lady Crusaders finished second in the tournament.

"It turns out that was one of the good things about being in the tournament, we've been through it," Lepper said. "We've done it, the kids did well having to deal with that.

"We stepped up and I was very happy with their efforts."

Helias accomplished that while battling through injuries to senior starters Riley Kolb and Lanie Lamb, along with sophomore reserve Ella Meyer.

"We played better than I thought we would with our injuries," Lepper said.

Lindsey Byers stepped up for the Lady Crusaders in the tournament, posting a pair of double-doubles.

"She was outstanding down there," Lepper said.

Meyer returned to practice this week and will play in the Classic. Kolb's status will be a game-time decision today, Lepper said, while Lamb has not been cleared to return to the court.

"Riley's been walking around the past couple of days, so we'll see," Lepper said.

Helias (3-2) will open against Blue Springs South (7-0) at 4 p.m.

The Jaguars are ranked No. 7 in Class 5 by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.

"They've got a little bit of everything," Lepper said.

Jaidynn Mason, a sophomore, is a standout point guard in her first season at Blue Springs South.

"If you don't stop her, she's going to go to the rim," Lepper said. "We've got to be ready to slow her down."

Lepper believes Helias' half of the Classic bracket, which includes St. Joseph Benton and Blair Oaks, could be wide-open.

"Any one of the four teams could get to the title game," Lepper said. "Blue Springs South is obviously good. Benton is young and may not have the best record, but Benton is always Benton. Blair Oaks has proven they know how to win."

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