Then Megan Hammersmith dominated the fourth to send the Lady Flyers back home Thursday night with a 48-41 win at South Central.
The win was good for a St. Paul (16-6, 10-4) regular season sweep of South Central, which closed at 9-11 (7-7 FC). But, the two teams easily can be pitted against one another in sectional championship game Feb. 23 if the Trojans can beat Mansfield St. Peter’s on Tuesday, just a week after blasting them 53-34 three nights ago.
Endsley quickly found her range – going 3 for 3 from behind the arc in the first 1:59 to spark St. Paul to a 9-2 lead early on.
Despite the sophomore’s hot start, the Trojans managed to go on a 9-2 run of their on to end the quarter tied at 11.
Smith stepped up for St. Paul in the second quarter by hitting a trio of her own from distance. She finished the quarter by scoring 11 of her game high 16 points. Smith added 8 rebounds to go along with those 16 points.
“It was just a ballgame tonight, you don’t ever come in here, or at least we don’t, and blow them out,” St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl said. “I’m proud of my kids. We talked about not giving up and that’s what we did tonight – we stuck with it and came out with a win and we told the girls in the locker room that there’s a good chance we may have to play them again next Saturday. So we may get to do it a third time.”
After going into the half with a 28-26 St. Paul advantage, the two teams struggled to get anything going offensively in the third quarter. Both teams turned the ball over several times and missed their share of open looks ending the quarter knotted up at 32.
Once the fourth quarter rolled around, Hammersmith made her presence known, dominating on both ends of the floor. Hammersmith scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter and grabbed five of her six rebounds.
“I pulled her out in the first half and she came back in and did what I kind of expect from her,” Mahl said. “You know she just does what ever she can to help get the win and that is something that all of our girls do. But, credit her, instead of being frustrated she just kept at it and had a good fourth quarter.”
The St. Paul defense put the brakes on South Central’s offense and strolled across the finish line for the hard fought win.
“We started out from behind, they hit like six three pointers early and usually that means trouble, but I thought we settled defensively a little bit,” South Central coach John Vogel said. “We found something that seemed to work for us and we were fortunate to get back in the game.
“I thought we made a little defensive flurry in the third quarter there, but neither of us was getting a lot done offensively and both teams were playing their second game of the week and maybe we were both a little tired,” he added. “We just made a few too many mistakes and hopefully we get a chance to do it a third time in the finals next week.”
McKee led the Trojans with 12 points. Courtney Shepherd added nine and Holly Hale scored six.
ST. PAUL (16-6, 10-4)
Anna Lukasko 3-0—6; Megan Hammersmith 3-2—8; Camille Endsley 4-0—11; Danielle Smith 5-5—18; Kati Kamann 2-0—4; Lauren Chandler 0-1—1 TOTALS 17-8—48.
SOUTH CENTRAL (9-11, 7-7)
Chesnee Pope 2-0—5; Holly Hale 3-1—7; Ellery McKee 6-0—12; Courtney Shepherd 4-0—9; Ally Burton 3-0—6; Ashley Copus 1-0—2. TOTALS 19-1—41.
St. Paul 11 17 4 16 — 48
S. Central 11 15 6 9 — 41
3-point FGs: (STP) Endsley 3; Smith 3; (SC) Pope; Hale