For the first time since 2015 the Bishop LeBlond girls will play in the championship of their team’s annual tournament, securing their place across from Savannah with a 66-20 win over North Andrew on Wednesday at Grace Gymnasium.
That was also the last time the Golden Eagles ended up in the top four finishers of the Bishop LeBlond Holiday Tournament.
“It definitely is something we’ve been striving for for the last few years, so it’s kind of a surreal moment that we’ve made it this far,” LeBlond (8-2) coach Jackie Ziesel said. “They were able to put it together tonight and put the game away, I was impressed that they came out that hard. You could tell that they wanted to go to the championship game.”
Sophomore guard Tatum Studer took note of the squad’s goals and accomplishments.
“It feels amazing to do what we haven’t done in the past and come together and stuff,” she said. “We’re preparing for the next game but we’re really excited to secure the championship game.”
The Eagles played their style of basketball, hitting on an outstanding 12 shots from beyond the arc.
Sophomore Katie Beam connected on five three-pointers, and was the Eagles’ scoring leader with 19.
Most impressive to Ziesel, though, was how much her team was able to spread the wealth, as three other players finished with multiple three-point shots.
“People off the bench were scoring, we just kept the energy going the entire game and that’s something that’s exciting to see,” Ziesel said. “That’s the first time we’ve felt like we’re putting someone away and not playing down to their level.”
The defense was exceptional as well, holding the Cardinals to just three points in the first quarter and none in the final period.
North Andrew (4-4) coach Craig Walker delved into the struggles his team faced against LeBlond.
“Athletically, it was a tough matchup,” Walker said. “Typically we’re a man team but we knew we were going to have to put some zones together and they ended up taking a lot of open shots.”
Savannah girls 55, East Buchanan 31
The Savages played a complete game of their own, overcoming a slow first quarter to run away with a comprehensive victory.
Trailing 10-8 to the Bulldogs after one and struggling to get anything going through the second quarter, Savannah finally found life as the buzzer grew near. In the final minutes of the half, Savannah knocked down a flurry of four three-pointers to take a 28-17 lead.
The Bulldogs struggled to score in the second half. After they brought the game to 29-21 midway through the third period, Savannah pulled away with a pair of 14 point quarters.
Savages senior Rylee Benight led the game with 15 points.
Savannah and LeBlond will meet in the championship at 4 p.m. Thursday.
St. Michael boys 73, North Andrew 50
The Cardinals fought tooth and nail to keep pace with the Guardians, but in the end they found themselves unable to maintain the energy that resulted in them entering the halftime locker room with a 35-32 lead.
Senior Tanner McDaniel ended the game as the leading scorer for both teams with 33 points. His 22 first half points were crucial in the Cardinal’s exceptional early effort.
The dream of an upset fell apart by the fourth period as the Guardians outscored the Cardinals 41-15 in the second half to advance to the championship.
Smithville boys 54, Bishop LeBlond 44
The Eagles’ streaky offense wasn’t enough to stay step for step with a more consistent Warriors effort in Wednesday’s semifinal.
The two teams tied 10-10 in the first period, then the Warriors managed six and five point advantages in the next two. LeBlond’s 23-point fourth quarter was unable to put the game back within reach.
The Eagles hit on seven threes to just eight two point scores as they struggled to get good looks inside.