In the second night of their only back-to-back of the entire season, the Lady Flyers struggled to find their legs Saturday, going just 16-of-48 from the field (33 percent) and turning the ball over 22 times. Fortunately for St. Paul, host St. Mary Central Catholic wasn’t faring much better, going 19-of-46 (41 percent), while registering 32 turnovers of its own.
A good portion of those Panther giveaways happened in the final quarter as the Lady Flyers turned up the defensive pressure, going on an 11-0 run to put away what was a close game throughout, winning 56-44 in the non-league game inside the Kinzel Center.
“These girls will sleep good tonight,” St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl said. “They’re tired. We came out and played hard last night (55-28 win over Huron). But I looked at them a few times tonight and had to tell them, ‘Get over being tired, we got to play.
“The girls responded though. I thought they did a good job of pressing the ball. We had some not-so-good turnovers, but I can’t fault the girls occasionally when they turn the ball over and they’re good looks where maybe we just didn’t catch it.”
Sophomore Danielle Smith drilled a 3-pointer to start the fourth-quarter scoring, then got a steal before sinking two foul shots to give the Lady Flyers (2-0) a 37-34 lead with 6:52 remaining after they trailed 34-32 entering the final eight minutes.
Maggie London’s three from the wing cut the SMCC (0-1) deficit to 43-40 with 4:01 to go. From there on, it was all St. Paul. Smith sank a floater in the lane to start her team’s double-digit run, before Megan Hammersmith tallied the next six points — four coming at the foul line — as the Lady Flyers had a 51-40 lead with two minutes left. Hammersmith had a game-high 20 points to go with her 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists.
St. Paul was 10 for 14 at the foul line in the final quarter.
“I thought our girls did a nice job of working both the inside and outside tonight,” Mahl said. “We’ve got the shooters this year, but we also started looking inside more, which helped open the outside up.”
Tied at 11-all after one quarter, the Panthers got consecutive buckets from Karina Near and Tre’Jean McCarty for a 15-11 advantage. Morgan Baxter hit connected from the outside for the Lady Flyers, but a steal and layup by McCarty made it 17-14. Baxter answered with a hoop in the paint at other end starting a 9-0 St. Paul run, leading to a 23-17 — the biggest advantage of the first three quarters — lead late in the second quarter.
But Ashley Huntley scored six of the final eight points of the first half, including a layup that beat the buzzer on an inbounds pass to cut the Lady Flyers’ halftime edge to 25-24.
Huntley, one of six seniors for SMCC, had 14 points, adding six assists and four steals. Annie Milkie and McCarty both added eight points. McCarty was responsible for four steals and five boards.
“We had some girls step up tonight. They were always hustling,” Panthers coach Brian Ferber said. “We just have to be a little more consistent. Our talking on the floor was OK, but we got to box out more and go get the rebounds. That was part of the problem tonight.”
SMCC was just 3 for 15 from the field in the final quarter. It only got to the line once down the stretch.
“We self-destructed a bit with handling the press,” Ferber said. “We got to learn to be stronger with the ball coming to our passes, and just being mentally strong as well.
“It definitely wasn’t our best basketball during the first three quarters, but we had the lead going into the fourth. The credit goes to St. Paul for being consistent, making foul shots and for being with the press at the end. We couldn’t handle it.”
Baxter chipped in 13 points, six steals and four assists for the Lady Flyers. Smith had 12 points.
“I’m pretty happy with the weekend,” Mahl said. “When you come out 2-0 on starting weekend, that’s pretty good. You never know what’s going to happen when you put on the uniforms and have officials. I’m sure they sleep a lot tomorrow.”
St. Paul will host Tiffin Calvert Tuesday.
ST. PAUL (2-0)
Morgan Baxter 3-5—13, Anna Lukasko 1-0—2, Megan Hammersmith 6-7—20, Camile Endsley 2-1—7, Danielle Smith 4-2—12, Lauren Chandler 1-0—2. TOTALS 16-15—56.
ST. MARY CC (0-1)
Karina Near 3-1—7, Ashley Huntley 5-3—14, Annie Milkie 4-0—8, Tre’Jean McCarty 4-0—8; Maggie London 2-0—5, Kiersten Near 1-0—2. TOTALS 19-4—44.
St. Paul 11 14 7 24 — 56
SMCC 11 13 10 10 — 44
3-pointers: (STP) Baxter 2, Smith 2, Endsley 2, Hammersmith; (STM) Huntley, London
JV: SMCC won, 46-18.
St. Paul 55, Huron 28
NORWALK — St. Paul jumped out to a 14-5 lead over Huron after the first quarter en route to a 55-28 victory to open the season Friday night.
Hammersmith led the Flyers with 14 points while Kati Kamann added 10.
St. Paul increased its lead to 29-14 at the half before outscoring the Tigers 26-14 in the second half.
Rae Roldan 2-2—6, Gabby Sasala 2-0—5, Ava Winestaffer 1-0—2, Ella Lamb 3-1—7, Madison Beldon 4-0—8. TOTALS 12--3—28.
ST. PAUL (1-0)
Morgan Baxter 2-2—6, Anna Lukasko 1-0—2, Megan Hammersmith 7-2—14, Camille Endsley 1-1—4, Danielle Smith 2-2—7, Brooke Houck 1-0—2, Kati Kamann 5-0—10, Maddy McCall 2-0—4, Lauren Chandler 2-0—6, TOTALS 23-5—55.
Huron 5 9 6 8 — 28
St. Paul 14 15 12 14 — 55
3-point FGs: (H) Sasala; (STP) Chandler 2, Endlsey, Smith