It was a gray and frozen Saturday afternoon on the grounds of St. Vincent High School located in Perryville, Missouri. The match up pitted the home team against the defending small school JCAA Conference Champions in the form of the Herculaneum Lady Blackcats. With the temperatures outside the gym barely in the double digits, the action inside the gym was a warm and fuzzy distraction to the families and supporters on-hand to cheer on their respective schools. Through generous sponsor donations from the Fowler, Waller and Lawson families, this game was able to be livestreamed by the LiveStreamSTL team for those not able to attend.
This day was senior day for the home St. Vincent Indians and before the contest tipped off, they honored their senior ladies: Genevieve Lipe, Mary Schwartz, Hannah Riney, Lacey Best, Emme Kirn and Lola Dauster. Once those ceremonies were complete, the starting lineups were introduced.
For the Herculaneum Lady Blackcats: #11 Madilyn Dearing, #20 Macey Pilliard, #25 Madison Lawson, #33 Emily Wiese and #34 Paige Fowler.
For the St. Vincent Lady Indians: #14 Reese Barber, #15 Genevieve Lipe, #21 Mary Schwartz, #23 Lacey Best and #30 Addie Cates.
The Lady Blackcats for this contest were in their black shorts and black jerseys. And for the home team, the Lady Indians were in their white shorts and white jerseys.
Once the game tipped off, the opening minutes of the first quarter were a bit of a tug-o-war. Neither team found much traction in the early going from an offensive standpoint. Around four and a half minutes into the contest, Lola Dauster of St. Vincent drained a three-pointer to put the Lady Indians up 5-4. That lead was short-lived as a barrage of three-pointers from the Lady Blackcats rained into their basket. First a long three pointer from reserve guard Abigail Kostecki put Herculaneum up 7-5 and that was soon followed by a three-ball from the senior Paige Fowler and not to be out-done, #33 Emily Wiese tossed in a three-pointer from the corner. Just like that the Lady Blackcats led 13-5. Following a bucket by Addie Cates of St. Vincent, Fowler connected with junior forward Alexia ‘Lexi’ Ashe to put Herky up 15-7 heading to the quarter break. I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the full-court defensive pressure and interior defense of junior center Macey Pilliard were obviously disruptive to the offensive efforts of St. Vincent as was the hounding help defensively by junior guard Madison Lawson.
Herky parlayed the late first quarter offensive momentum into the second quarter. After an early bucket by junior guard Dearing made the score 17-7, the Lady Indians scored on consecutive possessions. But that offensive surge was countered when Wiese drained three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to balloon the Herky advantage to 23-11. Despite being unable to convert consistently from the free throw line, Herky expanded their lead to 30-11 which was highlighted by baskets by junior center Emily Gruhala and Fowler. The next few minutes featured the teams trading free throws and after a basket by Pilliard, the score was 33-13 in favor of the visiting Lady Blackcats. Senior Mary Schwartz converted a pair of free throws for St. Vincent and junior guard Kyrsten Britton sank a basket for Herky to send the teams to the half with the score sitting at 35-15. The leading scorers at the hallway mark were Wiese and Fowler for Herky along with Best and Dauster for St. Vincent.
Breaking their respective huddles to begin the second half, the teams traded a single made free throw before a made lay up by the senior Genevieve Lipe cut the Herky lead to 18 points at 36-18. Dearing made two free throws to the delight of coach Riley Blair. Those free throws were followed by a St. Vincent’s bucket that was offset by two more made free throws by Wiese to push the advantage back to twenty points as the scoreboard showed a 40-20 score. The feisty Lady Indians scored a basket and another as senior Lacey Best made her shot to cut the deficit to 16 at 40-24. After another typical Paige Fowler bucket, Best tossed in two perfect free throws. Dearing, for her team’s cause, made her two free throws. Again St. Vincent answered in the form of Genevieve Lipe converting two low release left-handed free throw shots. Keeping pace to this point in the quarter, St. Vincent was only down 44-28. The senior Fowler garnered two free throw attempts and put the Lady Indians into the penalty with seven team fouls for the half. After Fowler calmly converted her two free throws, Dearing also scored a basket to put Herky back up by 20 at 48-28. After some back-and-forth action by the teams, Fowler grabbed a defensive rebound and took it coast-to-coast to finish at the other end with a layup. On their ensuing possession, reserve senior guard Kylee Bohler splashed a beautiful three-pointer in rhythm to the delight of the Herky bench players, coaches and supporters in attendance. Number 23, Best for the Lady Indians, took a pass and in one fluid motion drilled a mid-range jumper in the final 30 seconds of the quarter. After a couple of made free throws by Dearing, the Lady Indians pushed the ball up the court resulting in a ball deflected out of bounds around mid-court. With .9 seconds remaining on the clock and the ball near half court, St. Vincent ran a counterplay and a shooter came open. At the midway section of the three-point arc, senior Lacey Best received the pass in motion, planted, turned and released her shot. It hit high off the glass…and IN! The third quarter came to a close with scoreboard showing Herculaneum 56 and St. Vincent 33.
Starting the fourth quarter, Wiese drained yet another three-pointer and after Pilliard was fouled making her basket, she completed the three-point play with a made free throw to push the score to 62-33. Number 30, the junior Addie Cates, rained in a three-pointer and followed that up on the next possession with two made free throws to bring the score closer at 62-38. For Herky, a good portion of the fourth quarter action featured the Herky reserves getting some playing time. This led to the offense stalling a bit as St. Vincent ratcheted up the defensive pressure. Over the next few minutes, the only scoring was in the form of four free throws deftly executed by the left-handed shot of Genevieve Lipe for the Lady Indians. There was, however, a few minutes of concern for junior center Emily Gruhala as she fell to the court and remained there for several long minutes as coach Blair communicated with her to determine the severity of her injury. Eventually she was able to leave the court under her own power but with a noticeable limp. As the quarter wound down, Gruhala was seen conversing and sharing a laugh with teammates after an application of an ice pack. In the closing minute of the game with Herky leading 65-44, Zoey Wibbenmeyer pumped in a basket and her teammate Addie Cates subsequently converted one of two free throws to move the scoring to 65-47. Number 32, senior guard Cami Chappuis of Herky, closed out the scoring by making her final free throw. Final Score: Herculaneum 66 St. Vincent 47.
In my opinion, the game was immensely entertaining and with the different camera angles afforded by the LiveStreamSTL team, a great way to be up close and right in the action. Hats off to the St. Vincent Lady Indians and their coach Mel Kirn for a hard-fought game. And of course, heart-felt congratulations to the Herculaneum Lady Blackcats for repeating as JCAA Conference Champions of Small Schools. Despite losing Ashley Croom, Caitlyn Huber, Taylor Metcalf and Emma Vaughn to graduation, the Lady Blackcats were able to retool on the fly under the direction of coach Riley Blair and repeat as champions. We here at LiveStreamSTL want to wish both schools good luck for their remaining games including Districts.
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Piece written by Scott Latta for LiveStreamSTL.