Rarely does Bellarmine Prep face a team that equals them in size. But they met their match, and then some, against Inglemoor on Feb. 22 as the Vikings rolled to a 68-42 win in the 4A girls state regionals at Jackson High School to end the Lions’ season.
Sophomore forward Deja Strother – who stands at 6-foot-4 – and senior forward Kelly Conroy scored a game-high 20 points apiece, as the Vikings dominated in the paint and pestered the Lions with their length on defense. “They’re like a college team out there,” said Bellarmine Prep head coach Kevin Meines of Inglemoor. “They just keep getting bigger, and (they are) talented bigs, too…they wear you down, and (Strother) is just strong in there. I thought our posts fought in there, but there’s only so much you can do.”
Senior guard Ionna Price – who led Bellarmine Prep with 17 points and seven rebounds – kept the Lions in it early with two three-pointers and eight total points in the first quarter, but Conroy’s steal and layup with one second left in the period gave the Vikings a 19-12 lead. The Lions committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone, and totaled 30 in the game.
“They put good pressure on us, but there were times where we made the mental errors,” Meines said. “We didn’t execute…and again, they’re really long. That takes a toll on you too. They’re getting their hand on a ball that most kids don’t.”
Julia Haining’s steal and layup put Inglemoor up 30-15 midway through the second quarter, but the Lions hung tough for the remainder of the period. Jasmyne Holmes – who had been sidelined a few weeks with a concussion – answered with a layup on the Lions’ next possession, and Kelsy McElroy followed by feeding Courtney Schwan for an easy layup. The Lions trailed just 37-27 at the break after freshman Jayana Ervin’s steal and layup to beat the buzzer.
But Conroy hit two more threes in the third quarter as Inglemoor began to pull away, and Strother and 6-foot-1 wing Alex Hagen continued to dominate in the middle. Hagen’s jumper midway through the third completed an 11-0 run for the Vikings to make it 50-29, essentially sealing the win for Inglemoor.
Ervin was impressive off the bench for the Lions, finishing with eight points, six rebounds and five steals, while Schwan and Holmes added six points apiece for Bellarmine.
“Our kids battled,” Meines said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this group of kids, and the way they’ve fought to get here…as a coach, that’s all you can ask of your kids.”
By Jeremy Helling