PRINCETON — The St. Bede girls basketball team got straight to business on Thursday.
In an NCIC showdown in Princeton, the Lady Bruins scored the game’s first eight points and built a double-digit first-quarter lead en route to a 44-18 blowout victory over the Tigresses.
“We’re battling the flu, but we came out nice and moved the ball well,” St. Bede coach Tom McGunnigal said. “We aren’t as active as I would like us to be and I’d like us to shoot the ball a little better, but all in all the girls played hard and the girls played well.”
St. Bede senior guard Lydia Stariha scored the game’s first six points as the Lady Bruins built a 16-2 cushion with 2:31 left in the opening quarter.
St. Bede had two 8-0 runs sandwiched between a PHS basket.
A 3-point shot by Princeton senior forward Emmalee Sears ended the second SBA 8-0 run, but the Lady Bruins built a 22-5 lead after the first quarter.
“We started off really strong, and that’s always good,” SBA senior Mo Dean said. “I think we were just ready to go out and to win.”
After the 22-point first quarter, St. Bede (12-11, 2-0 NCIC) scored 22 points combined over the final three quarters.
It didn’t matter, however, as the Lady Bruins’ first-quarter point total bettered Princeton’s scoring in the entire game.
After St. Bede took a 12-2 lead with 3:21 left in the first quarter, the lead never dropped below 10 points, and the Lady Bruins led by as much as 30 points in the final minutes of the game.
“We were good defensively and put good pressure on the ball, played in the passing lanes and did a nice job,” McGunnigal said.
The Lady Bruins’ defensive pressure caused the Tigresses (4-13, 0-2 NCIC) problems all night. Princeton had 11 first-quarter turnovers and 29 in the game.
“Turnovers have just killed us all year,” PHS coach Kevin Hieronymus said. “And some of them were unforced tonight. We got in too much of a hurry, I think.”
After Stariha jumpstarted the Lady Bruins, Dean picked up the slack.
The 6-foot-3 center scored eight first-quarter points and ended with 14 points, 14 rebounds and a blocked shot.
“Mo is a big presence in there,” Hieronymus said. “We held her to 14 — which is basically her average — so I thought we did well considering her size advantage, but they have enough other weapons that can get you.”
Those weapons were seven other Lady Bruins who scored.
The group was led by Stariha — who had eight points — while junior guard Maritsa Hermosillo added seven points. Senior forward Whitely Funfsinn grabbed seven rebounds and scored four points.
Princeton was led by Sears, who had team highs of nine points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Makenzey Wilson added seven points and five rebounds, while junior post Kelly Schmidt chipped in seven rebounds.
Thursday’s game was the first between McGunnigal and Hieronymus, who’s also the BCR Sports Editor and has covered McGunnigal and the St. Bede girls for nearly 15 years.
“It was definitely different after following his teams all these years to be sitting down the bench from him,” Hieronymus said. “I have a heck of a lot of respect for him and his program. His program is what every team in this area strives to be — a consistently strong team year in and year out. That’d be my dream and goal for my program, to be like the program he’s got.”
Note: The Princeton sophomore team beat St. Bede 36-25. Abby Jaques scored a game-high 16 points for PHS, while Taylor Clark chipped in 14 points. Tori Parnell had a team-high 13 points for SBA.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.