Christian’s zone defense as the Lady Cardinals lost 41-34 to the defending TAPPS 2A state champions. The loss was St. Paul’s second straight championship defeat against the Warriors.
“On offense we weren’t getting any looks as they were packing in on the zone on us,” St. Paul head coach Dana Beal-Sestak said after the game. “We don’t really like to play that game very much, but it was what we were forced to do and they did a good job defensively.
“Things just wouldn’t fall for us, we just couldn’t get the shots to fall. We got the shots, but we couldn’t get them to go in. When you play against a team like that you have to make those shots.”
Despite having a lead for just two minutes of game clock, the Lady Cardinals kept the game close with a slow pace on offense, trying to find an open look in Southcrest Christian’s zone defense. Southcrest Christian’s biggest lead was five points in the first half, as they ended the second quarter up 21-19 over the Cardinals.
St. Paul’s offensive struggles continued through the second half, and the Warriors took advantage, outscoring the Lady Cardinals 10-3 in the third quarter to extend their lead to 31-22. The clock-draining possessions Shiner St. Paul was forced to play ended with too many missed field goals for Beal-Sestak.
“You need those [shots to fall],” she explained, “you need that to have a little fire, to get a little confidence and feel like you’re not just working all the time on defense because we spent a lot of time on defense too. That’s what happens whenever you play a good team, you got to be able to go both ends and you got to have a spark.”
The Lady Cardinals looked for that spark in the fourth quarter, after a steal and a fast break layup by senior guard Gracey Novosad cut the lead to 33-26. Novosad led the team in scoring with 12 points, scoring nine of those in the first half. But on the next position, Southcrest Christian’s Taelor Sadler hit a three which all but ended St. Paul’s hope at redemption.
The Warriors’ 10-point lead was more than enough, with St. Paul’s 8-3 run taking up too much time for a comeback. Southcrest Christian’s two free throws near the end gave them the 41-34 victory.
Seniors Grace Irvin, Delynn Pesek, Gracey Novosad and Christine Wagner were named to the TAPPS 2A all tournament team.
“Defensively they did a great job,” Beal-Sestak said of the senior foursome. “Yesterday they had a good game.”
“Yesterday they had a great stand out game,” she added, “and today they did their jobs. We just didn’t get the shots to fall.”
The Lady Cardinals end their season as TAPPS 5-2A undefeated district champions with a 28-6 overall record.
The Lady Cardinals will lose a slew of seniors, though Beal-Sestak is excited for the future of the program.
“Oh [the seniors] were huge but they’ve also done a great job with our younger kids,” she explained. “We’ve got a couple sophomores, we’ve got a junior. We’ve got quite a few freshmen that have been with them, playing with them every day and they’ve done a really great job of bringing them along and trying to teach them, trying to help them. I always tell them the more coaches we have on the floor the better we are. So they’ve done a great job of helping them kind of grow.”
“They put in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours,” Beal-Sestak said, praising her underclassmen. “It’s not easy having to practice against those seniors, they’ve done a great job. They’ve grown from that, all the underclassmen have grown from that. They’ve been great leaders.”