The intrigue before the start of the game between Bellarmine Prep and Wilson had everyone anticipating a classic showdown. But what ensued was something less than a classic, as 48 combined fouls and 66 foul shots led to a sloppy affair, and the Rams controlled much of the contest to defeat the Lions 70-50 at home on Dec. 7.
“We got of to a great start, but after a while some fatigue set in and we were not able to maintain a good, clean pace throughout,” said Wilson coach Michelle Birge.
Wilson shot out to a quick 14-0 lead before Bellarmine’s Courtney Schwan got the Lady Lions on the board with just under five minutes left in the first quarter. Bethany Montgomery – the prime reason for Wilson’s early spurt – tied for a game-high 17 points along with Rams forward Tia Briggs.
“We wanted to get off to the quick start and get Bellarmine caught up in our quick–paced game, and it worked to perfection,” said Montgomery.
The Lady Rams’ biggest lead in the first quarter came at the end, as they mounted a 26-5 lead that they never surrendered, and Bellarmine would never get closer than 12 points on the rest of the night.
“Our game is 75 percent mental, and our girls know when they are losing their edge,” said Birge. “Throwing up ill-advised three-point shots and committing careless turnovers will get their attention in a hurry.”
Leading 46-20 at the half, Birge emptied her bench and got some valuable playing time for some of her younger players, as Salina Bradford and Kiara Knox got in the action in the second half. Bellarmine made a late run in the latter half of the third quarter, spurred by Clare Martin and Iona Price, who would pace the Lady Lions with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
“During that stretch we put up some ill-advised three-pointers and got out of our rhythm, but in the end the girls got their intensity back and closed it out well,” said Birge.
The hard part of the game for both players and fans alike was the constant whistle-blowing and trips to the foul line that had both Birge and Bellarmine coach Kevin Meines frustrated from beginning to end.
“It was hard to watch, but we have to tell our players to avoid getting frustrated and play through the whistles,” said Birge. “Our team leaders have to do their part in controlling our team’s temper for the whole game.”
The Rams host Mount Tahoma on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., while the Lions will look to turn it around against Stadium at home on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.