Saxony Lutheran upends top-seed Notre Dame in Holiday Classic girls basketball tournament

Friday, December 21, 2012
Notre Dame’s Annie Siebert drives against Saxony Lutheran’s Abby Hadler during the first quarter of their semifinal game in the Kelso Supply Holiday Classic Thursday at the Show Me Center. Saxony Lutheran won 47-34 to reach the championship game. (Fred Lynch)

The Saxony Lutheran girls basketball team entered this week's Kelso Supply Holiday Classic having never won a tournament game in its previous six years of existence.

Now they're one game away from winning it all.

The fourth-ranked Crusaders stunned top-seeded Notre Dame 47-34 Thursday night to earn a spot in the tourney's championship game against Central on Saturday.

The Crusaders did it by defeating a team they lost to 60-47 two weeks ago, a game in which Saxony coach Sam Sides hoped his young squad would learn from.

Did they ever.

Saxony Lutheran’s Brianna Mueller, left, grabs the ball from Notre Dame’s Karsen Powers during the second quarter of their semifinal game Thursday at the Kelso Supply Holiday Classic at the Show Me Center. Saxony Lutheran advanced to the championship with a 47-34 victory. (Fred Lynch)

"The last time they picked their game up and I thought we didn't respond," Sides said. "Tonight we responded. We turned our game up a little bit."

One player who turned her game up immensely from the team's previous encounter was freshman guard Grace Mirly, who got the Crusaders off to a fast start by scoring five of her team's 12 points in the first quarter, then hit two 3-pointers in the second period when Saxony (7-1) extended its lead to 28-14 at the half.

"She's a gamer," Sides said of his freshman sparkplug. "She doesn't feel the pressure. She likes this kind of atmosphere and competition."

Mirly politely deflected praise to her teammates.

"Without them out there helping me, they give me such support, and we just work together," Mirly said. "I don't think of them as my points, I think of them as the team's points."

The second quarter was a nightmare for the Bulldogs, who hit just 2 of 10 field goals and committed a uncharacteristic 10 turnovers while scoring just five points in the period.

"We started off out of our game plan," Notre Dame coach Renee Peters said. "We wanted to start out scoring layups; we didn't do that and we fell behind. Our shots weren't falling, we kept forcing a little bit, and we made silly, juvenile turnovers."

Notre Dame (6-2) committed 22 turnovers and hit just 11 of 48 shots for the game. For a team that depends on creating turnovers and pushing the ball down the court, the Bulldogs had just one layup in transition for the entire game.

"We just had to stop that and make sure we contested all their shots," said Saxony freshman forward Raegan Wieser.

The Bulldogs' frustration was apparent.

"We just couldn't seem to get anything going," Peters lamented. "We're a team of momentum, and when we can't seem to score in bursts, then that hurts us, and we didn't have our bursts tonight."

Sides acknowledged that played a big part in determining the outcome.

"We did a good job getting back for the most part and slow that down because they hurt us last time with that," Sides said. "They've killed people (throughout) the tournament with that and they get some easy buckets. But for the most part we got back and slowed that down. In fact we got a few turnovers against them that way, too. Our effort was great."

Notre Dame cut the lead to 31-24 midway through the third period on Annie Siebert's 3-pointer and Halle Lynch's layin off a nice feed from Madeline Rosenquist. But Mirly responded by hitting consecutive short jumpers to push Saxony's lead to 35-24, and the Bulldogs never recovered.

"(Mirly) stepped up her game, and she can do that," Sides said. "She can take over a game when she needs to do it. She's got great skill and she had a great game tonight."

With just over three minutes remaining and Saxony leading 43-31, the Crusaders began to play keep-away, taking precious time off the clock. Notre Dame did manage a 3-pointer by Kayce Landewee, but a basket by Saxony's Natalie Mueller and steal and layup by Brianna Mueller brought the Saxony contingent of fans to their feet as the final seconds ticked away.

"Tonight our effort wasn't there," Peters admitted. "(Saxony) outhustled us, they outplayed us, and they deserved to win that game."

Mirly scored a game-high 16 points. Brianna Mueller added 13.

Saxony Lutheran1216910--47
Notre Dame95128--34

SAXONY LUTHERAN (47) -- Grace Mirly 16, Ali Galemmo 2, Brianna Mueller 13, Natalie Mueller 2, Lauren Hecht 2, Tess Daniel 1, Ashlynn Collier 2, Raegan Wieser 6, Maddie Brune 3. FG: 20, FT: 4-6, F: 11. (3-pointers: Mirly 2, B. Mueller 1. Fouled out: noine.)

Notre Dame -- Mirando Fowler 3, Annie Siebert 7, Halle Lynch 3, Karsen Powers 5, Shelby Beussink 5, Kaitlin Welter 8, Kayce Landewee 3. FG: 11, FT: 7-10, F: 15. (3-pointers: Welter 2, Siebert 1, Powers 1, Landewee 1. Fouled out: none.)

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