St. Cecilia gave Lincoln Christian’s Allyson Korte all of the shots she was willing to take Saturday.
Korte, a senior point guard, didn’t make a single one of her eight attempts, which the Hawkettes didn’t mind. Korte was free to dribble just about anywhere she wanted, even in close to the hoop, so long as she didn’t have any other choice but to shoot it or turn it over.
“We were kind of daring (Korte) to shoot it, and fortunately for us, she struggled a little bit,” STC head coach Greg Berndt said.
St. Cecilia’s game plan was simple: the Hawkettes were to double team Lincoln Christian’s leading scorer Olivia Hollenbeck, who averaged over 14 points coming into Saturday, and keep a watchful eye on the Crusaders’ other two threats, Makylee Ailes and Barrett Power.
Tori Thomas and Katharine Hamburger annoyed Hollenbeck in the post and limited her to 10 points — 0 in the fourth quarter. And in a battle of No. 1s, in Class C-1 and C-2, respectively, the Hawkettes executed their other defensive assignments and took their fourth straight matchup with the Crusaders accordingly, 54-45.
Two of the previous three victories, one of which was in overtime, had been by two points; the other by five in the Centennial Conference championship last year.
“Our goal was to make every touch of (Hollenbeck’s) tough, and to frustrate her,” Berndt said. “I thought Tori and Katharine did an awesome job. That’s one of those (performances) where you can look at the final box score and not know how many they scored, but you can feel really proud of your effort in stopping, probably, an all-state post.”
After a gritty start, both offenses got more comfortable in the second period as shots began to fly and fall. St. Cecilia fed Thomas inside as she broke free on set plays while Hollenbeck, who picked up two early fouls, had to watch some of it from the bench.
Thomas, who led all scorers with 15 points, had 13 by the halftime buzzer on 5-of-5 shooting.
“For having a 6-foot-4-inch kid, we kind of dominated the lane on bth ends,” Berndt said. “(Lincoln Christian) couldn’t get anything easy around the rim and it seemed like we were having a lot of success getting buckets at the rim.’
Without their primary option, Lincoln Christian countered with 3-pointers. And the Crusaders hit their share to keep pace. Ailes and Alexis Johnson each hit a pair of 3s in the second quarter. Ailes finished 4-for-6 from beyond the arc and with a team-high 14 points. Johnson joined Hollenbeck with 10 points.
“Credit to Lincoln Christian, they hit a lot of shots, and they had to hit a lot of 3s to stay in it,” Berndt said. “They did a good job of battling back. We couldn’t quite put them away, but when we needed a stop, our defense was pretty good at getting one.”
A 9-4 run that began the third quarter doubled the Hawkettes’ lead at that point and carried them to the fourth where they hit 6-of-10 from the free throw line to finished 17-for-22 there.
Bailey Kissinger, who finished with points for the Hawkettes, scored six of the team’s final eight points. She was 7-for-9 at the line. Natalie Kissinger drained three 3s on the night.
After losing to Class B No. 1 Crete Thursday night, Lincoln Christian has now lost two straight.
The Hawkettes continue their tough stretch with Class B No. 2 Northwest Tuesday. The defending state champion Vikings handed STC its only loss last season during its 26-1 campaign.
LC (9-2)........................10 16 11 8 — 45
STC (12-0)....................11 20 15 8 — 54
Lincoln Christian (45)
Barrett Power 2-4 2-4 7, Makylee Ailes 5-10 0-0 14, Allyson Korte 0-8 0-0 0, Alexis Johnson 4-11 0-0 10, Olivia Hollenbeck 4-7 2-2 10, Ashlynn Ailes 0-3 1-2 1, Addie Ehlers 1-1 0-0 3, Halle Heuser 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-44 5-8 45.
St. Cecilia (54)
Chloe McCauley 2-3 0-2 4, Bailey Kissinger 3-9 7-9 13, Tori Thomas 6-8 3-3 15, Natalie Kissinger 3-6 0-0 9, Makenna Asher 2-4 3-4 7, Shaye Butler 0-0 2-2 2, Katharine Hamburger 1-3 2-2 4. Totals: 17-33 17-22 54.
Three-point goals — LC 8-20 (Power 1-2, M. Ailes 4-6, Korte 0-1, Johnson 2-8, Hollenbeck 0-1, A. Ailes 0-1, Ehlers 1-1); STC 3-7 (N. Kissinger 3-6, Asher 0-1).