St. Paul (19-3, 13-1) started out sluggish Thursday against Mapleton, but overwhelmed the Lady Mounties in the third quarter for the 62-35 win at the St. Paul Convocation Center. The Lady Flyers outscored the visitors 21-5 in the period.
With the victory, St. Paul shares the FC crown with Western Reserve (17-3, 13-1). It’s the first time in 14 years the Lady Flyers have been conference champions.
“It means a lot. I’ve never done it in basketball. We’ve done it in volleyball a couple times because I play volleyball too,” said senior Ashley Painley, St. Paul’s starting guard/forward.
“It’s a really big deal. Not everyone thinks of us as a basketball school, so we can change that this year,” she added.
Coach Vicky Mahl beamed after Thursday’s game.
“This whole season has been about is goals and this is goal No. 1,” she said. “It means these girls have worked hard.”
Goal No. 2? Using the momentum as the No. 1 seed in the Division IV district tournament.
“Whether we have to share (the FC crown) or not, congrats to Western. We did our job to be in this position. We beat Western and we did our job,” Mahl added.
St. Paul came to Collins on Saturday and beat the Lady Roughriders 58-47 in a key FC game late in the season.
Mahl intended to let her players savor their championship.
“Why not. Let them enjoy this. It hasn’t happened in a long time,” she said. “I’m just proud of the kids. They never quit.”
There’s no doubt the Lady Flyers wanted to be FC champions.
“I just really wanted to win conference this year as a senior. (Thursday) at practice, basically that was all we talked about — that we beat Western on Saturday and we had to finish the job,” Painley said.
“We were really pumped (after) the Western game,” she continued. “I think that just carried on until tonight (Thursday).”
Mapleton led St. Paul 10-7 at the end of the first period. The Lady Flyers had a 12-10 advantage with 6:38 left until halftime and took a 25-22 edge into the locker room.
Faith Edwards, Mapleton’s starting senior guard, hit a three-pointer with 6:10 in the third quarter. That cut St. Paul’s lead to 29-27, but more importantly, the basket was her 1,000 point of her career. Edwards led the Lady Mounties with 11 points.
St. Paul dominated the third quarter, scoring 21 points and holding Mapleton to five.
During the period, senior Lauren Lukasko went on a personal 4-0 run for the Lady Flyers. She scored all eight of her points in the quarter, which ended with St. Paul up 46-27.
Painley played Thursday like a woman on a mission. She had a double-double, leading all scorers with 15 points and 11 rebounds. In addition, the senior grabbed six steals and handed out five assists.
“What can I say about her? She works hard every game. She does what’s expected of her; she does a good job of getting it,” Mahl said.
Painley’s shots didn’t turn into points at first, but she persevered.
“She kept trying and it finally started to fall. When she couldn’t get her outside shots to fall, she took the ball inside,” Mahl said. “She’s a player I can put outside or I can put inside. … She’s comfortable doing either or.”
Senior Caitlin Good scored 11 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. She also deflected a pass.
Classmate Elyse Roth nearly had a double-double: 10 points and eight rebounds.
“She had a good game tonight. I can’t say enough about her. She started off slow as well and came back,” Mahl said.
“She got in on the boards. She was finishing shots (Thursday) and was getting up and down the court and playing defense,” her coach added.
‘We got doubles’
Making Thursday even sweeter for St. Paul, the jayvee squad grabbed a 41-19 win. Junior Katie Tomshack led the Lady Flyers with nine points — and clinched the jayvee FC crown.
“I can’t say enough about our kids,” Mahl said.
“I just have to give a shout-out to my jayvee — my younger kids. They went through the whole conference and didn’t lose a game, so give them credit when it comes to the FCC.
“We got doubles,” she added.
Next, the varsity St. Paul team plays the winner of Lucas, the seventh seed, vs. Monroeville (No. 8) at 6:15 Feb. 25 at Shelby High School in the Division IV district tournament.
Painley is confident the momentum from sharing the FC crown will carry the Lady Flyers forward.
“We probably will play teams in the conference too just to show we were the best in the conference and we’re going to keep rolling,” the senior said.
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at "Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger."
Mapleton 10 12 5 8 — 35
St. Paul 7 18 21 16 — 62
Mapleton: Sloan Welch 4-1-10, Arin Merle 1-0-2, Faith Edwards 4-2-11, Melissa LeComte 1-0-2, Kendra Peggs 3-0-6, Sarah Pelton 2-0-4 — 15-3-35
St. Paul: Ashley Painley 6-3-15, Lauren Lukasko 4-0-8, Caitlin Good 4-2-11, Emily Baker 1-0-2, Olivia Powers 3-0-6, Tomshack 2-0-4, Elyse Roth 3-4-10, Megan Hammersmith 1-0-2 — 26-9-62