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story.lead_photo.caption Helias guard Mikah Edwards drives up the court while chased by Owensville guard Katelyn Landolt during Tuesday's game at Rackers Fieldhouse. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

Practice makes perfect.

But there's nothing like playing a game.

"This was the best I've seen us play this season," Helias coach Garrett Wiggans said Tuesday night after the Lady Crusaders defeated the Owensville Dutchgirls 81-43 at Rackers Fieldhouse. "I can really count on one hand we were in a half-court set on offense because we were in transition so much.

"Having games and not so many practice days has really helped with that."

The Lady Crusaders never trailed Tuesday, jumping out to a 14-3 lead on their way to a 25-8 advantage after one quarter.

"We did a good job of taking the lead and keeping it for all four quarters," Wiggans said. "Sometimes this season, we've had a problem with a bad quarter. But not tonight.

"Owensville is fast, they get after it. We had to handle their pressure."

Owensville got as close as 14 points in the second quarter, that coming at 30-16 with 5:39 left before halftime. But Helias was able to extend its advantage to 48-25 at the half.

The Lady Crusaders played extended minutes late in the second quarter with senior starter Lindsey Byers and four reserves on the floor.

"They work hard, they're talented," Wiggans said. "Sometimes they make mistakes, but those are just inexperience. But we need them to win games, even if it's just a minute or two."

Helias led by as many as 30 points in the third quarter when Samantha Ehmke's layup with 3:20 remaining gave the Lady Crusaders a 63-33 advantage. It was 67-39 in favor of the Lady Crusaders going to the fourth quarter.

Adalyn Koelling of the Lady Crusaders scored early in the fourth quarter off an assist by Ava Morris to push Helias' lead to 30 points and bring the running clock into play. The 38-point final margin was the largest of the game.

"We have 10 girls who are going to play any given night and all 10 helped us to this win," Wiggans said.

The Lady Crusaders finished 35-of-53 (66 percent) from the field.

Kylie Bernskoetter led three Lady Crusaders in double figures with 21 points. The senior helped spark Helias' win with eight points in the first quarter.

"Kylie can shoot from anywhere," Wiggans said.

Byers and Koelling added 20 points each for the Lady Crusaders. Byers also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

"I have to give props to Lindsey, I've been tough on her," Wiggans said. "But tonight, she came out of her shell and played both ends of the floor really hard."

Koelling was 10-of-14 from the field in the game.

"That was a silent 20, she just scored in bunches," Wiggans said.

Anna Finley, a junior guard, totaled a game-high 26 points for the Dutchgirls (4-4).

"You have to be ready to guard her when she gets off the bus because she is a special player," Wiggans said. "You cannot leave her open, she's so talented."

It was just the third home game of the season for the Lady Crusaders.

"It's fun to play in front of the home fans, to let them see the good product we put on the floor," Wiggans said.

Helias (9-1), which maintained its No. 2 spot in the latest Class 5 Missouri Basketball Coaches Association rankings released Tuesday, will play Thursday at Hickman in a Central Missouri Activities Conference game.

On Saturday, Helias returns home to face Boonville in a 7 p.m. contest.

In Tuesday's JV game, Helias had four players score in double figures in a 63-42 victory against Owensville. Claire Manns led with 12 points, while Karoline Klebba and Madi May added 11 each. Paige Sooter chipped in with 10.

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