A hot start helped Savannah overcome Bishop LeBlond and take the Bishop LeBlond Holiday Tournament’s first-place trophy from the hosts, winning 43-31 on Thursday at Grace Gymnasium.
Savannah (5-3) began the game on a 15-2 run, totally stymieing a LeBlond (8-3) offense that knocked down 12 3-pointers the day prior.
The Savages beat them at their own game, connecting on a trio of shots beyond the arc in the first period.
“Obviously if you saw them play yesterday, they shot lights out. We were really focused on running them off the 3-point line,” Savannah coach Aaron Cooper said. “The key to the game was we got that hot start right in the beginning, which kind of separated ourselves. It was even from then on out.”
The Eagles hit on only two 3s in the game on a high volume of attempts, both in the fourth quarter with the game nearly out of reach.
LeBlond tried to make up the difference on defense, countering with an 8-0 run of their own in the first half to bring the score to 15-10 with 4:31 in the second quarter. The Savages extended their lead to 24-13 by the halftime break.
It was the story of the game for the Eagles, putting together just enough of a run to keep themselves in the game but never quite getting over the hump.
LeBlond coach Jackie Ziesel thought the team couldn’t quite seem to spark momentum.
“My motto is always ‘fight until the end,’” she said. “We wanted to put some fire in them, they looked defeated coming out in the second half.”
Their struggles continued in the second half. Though the Eagles’ defense stiffened up in the half court setting, the Savages used LeBlond’s offensive miscues to make up for their own issues creating shots.
“Everything we start with is on our defensive end. We got some easy passing lanes, some easy run outs, went to the free throw line and knocked them down at the end,” Cooper said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
In the final minutes of the fourth, Bishop LeBlond finally got the game within seven points with 1:31 to play. While attempting to drain the clock, sophomore Kiara Schaub saw a look she liked in the corner.
Junior Lexi Jones couldn’t fault her shot selection, given the outcome.
“I said ‘No, don’t shoot it!’ But when she hit it, I got really hyped for her,” Jones said. “We were supposed to hold the ball, but if she makes it, she makes it. I’m very proud.”
The shot was the nail in the coffin, all but stamping out a comeback.
Despite coming up short in their home tournament, Ziesel isn’t too beat up about the team’s performance this week.
“Definitely some hanging heads, tough loss. We don’t like to lose,” she said. “Proud of how hard they fought in the whole tournament. Bringing home some hardware is always a good finish for any program.”
The Eagles will host Mid-Buchanan next Tuesday, while Savannah will travel to Atchison next Monday.