After a bit of a break in action, area girls basketball teams are gearing up for a rush of games before the holidays, preparing to take their finals, and looking forward to next week’s Candy Cane Classic at Gibault High School.
The annual holiday tournament runs Dec. 16 through Dec. 21, and includes teams from Columbia, Gibault, Waterloo, Red Bud, Windsor, Cahokia, Roxana and Wood River. Play tips off Dec. 16 at 6 p.m., and the championship game will be played Dec. 21, at 1:30 p.m.
The Lady Eagles and head coach Scott Germain are off to a strong start, with a record of 4-2, including a second-place finish in their Columbia Tip-Off Classic to start the season.
“This is a team that is only going to get better, day in day out,” Germain said. “We look to compete on a nightly basis.”
Kalli Farmer leads the team with 58 points through Friday’s victory over Wesclin, followed by Kaylee Bastien (34), Katie Barton (33) and Danielle Sellers (32).
“We have had 10 girls see valuable playing time through the first six games,” Germain said. “Farmer has been playing well and is leading the team in scoring. Barton hit the winning basket versus Freeburg and sank a free throw to put us up by three with nine seconds to go in the game.”
The balanced Eagles defense is led by Farmer, with 28 rebounds, Barton and Teryn Pena with 24 each, and Bastien and Claire Foster each with 22.
“We stand 2 – 1 in the tough Cahokia Conference with the eight-time defending conference champ Breese Central coming to Columbia on Thursday,” Germain said.
They will travel to Okawville Saturday before taking on Windsor in the first game of the Candy Cane Classic Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. The tourney goes through Dec. 21, and regular play will resume right after Christmas with the Lebanon Tournament Dec. 26-28.
Lady Hawks head coach Brian Hart is already seeing his girls come together on the hardwood, becoming more familiar in their roles in this young season. The team is 2-3, with their last two games cancelled due to weather.
“Every game we played in so far we have improved and that’s a good thing,” Hart said. “Our seniors are playing pretty hard. They are starting to figure out their roles.”
Through their first four games, the offense is led by Kendra Davis with 66 points, and Lauren Prader with 41, followed by Brittany Laurent with 24.
And Hart will be looking to see his girls’ progress to continue as the Hawks enter a packed schedule this holiday season.
“We look forward to a busy schedule over the next two weeks,” he said. “We play three games back to back to back at home this week and then we have our Candy Cane Classic next week. On top of that they have finals next week. It will be a busy schedule for our girls, but a lot of fun.”
The Hawks hosted Okawville Tuesday, Red Bud Wednesday, and Metro-East Lutheran Thursday before playing Waterloo in the secondWaterloo’s Hope Elliott advances on the net in Monday’s home loss to Mascoutah. (Kermit Constantine photo)
game of the Candy Cane Classic, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m.. Post-holiday play resumes Jan. 6, at home against Triad.
The Lady Pirates’ season has yet to begin in earnest, having only played in the Dupo Cat Classic in early November.
“We didn’t do that well as a team but I believe we will be better,” said head coach Neil Siburt. “The whole regular season is upcoming. I think we are just looking to start playing games again.”
The Pirates next take to the hardwood Thursday, when they host Marissa. They play at Hancock on Dec. 16, and host Valley Park Dec. 17, Steeleville Dec. 19 and Dupo Dec. 23. They resume play after the holidays on Jan. 6, in the Chester Tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs have battled back from slow starts to sit at 2-3 on the season, and with head coach Matt Lucash’s club battling injuries they are taking the games one at a time.
“It’s a problem of having to battle back in every game,” Lucash said. “It takes a toll on us when we get down 8 to 10 points to start the game. We have fought back a couple times and still come up short. I think we were down 18 to Columbia in the third (quarter), but got it back to 4 in the fourth. It just takes too much energy to have to do that.”
With seniors Malone Wall, who hasn’t played a game due to a broken finger, and Haley Berning, who Lucash reports had just started shooting the ball well, down with a sprained ankle, the Bulldogs have been playing eight players.
“Each of them can have a good night, but we just haven’t been consistent,” he said. “Once we get everyone healthy, which should happen over the holiday break, I think we can develop into a decent team.”
Taylor Augustine is the leading scorer, with 47 points. Hope Elliott (36), Kathryn Finnerty (26) and Kaitlyn Storm (24) round out the offensive leaders. On defense, Mia Reed is tearing it up with 56 rebounds, along with Elliott (26), Finnerty (24) and Jesse Elder (21).
“We have a tough Highland team at home Thursday.” Lucash said. “If we look past them to the Candy Cane Classic, we will get blown out. We have to look at each game as an opportunity to improve and hopefully by February we can be playing our best.”
After hosting Highland Thursday and playing Gibault Dec. 16 to start their Candy Cane Classic action, the Bulldogs resume play Jan. 9, in Red Bud.