The first half of the contest between the Saints and Rebels felt like a track meet, with both teams got out in transition, making for a fast-paced and highly entertaining first 18 minutes.
“I thought we were going to get up and down with them and that’s what we wanted to do,” said head coach Steve Witcraft. “Sometimes they don’t have to think about it and it just comes natural. That’s how I’d like us to play a lot of the time.”
Chloe Mickelson got things started with a three on St. James’ very first possession. Kaydi Anderson pushed the lead to 5-0 on the ensuing possession. United South Central was able to get on the board with a Katie Dylla steal and a layup.
The teams would trade buckets throughout much of the opening minutes of the first half, but a deep three by Kaylee Carlson and a Hannah Olson coast-to-coast layup would tie the game at 13.
The Rebels would then go on a quick 8-0 run, highlighted by threes from Olson and Carlson.
Jaelyn Haler would connect on a basket and Chloe Mickelson followed up with a three, and the Rebels lead was cut to 23-20. The Saints would eventually tie, and take the lead the game late in the first half thanks to baskets by Anderson and Haler.
The tight battle continued in the first few minutes of the second half.
Renata Hernandez would double down on a pair of pull-up jumpers to give the Saints the lead with 14:00 minutes left to play. Chloe Mickelson buried back-to-back threes and hit a runner in the lane to extend the Saints’ lead to 46-36 with just under 11 minutes remaining.
“Just the teamwork and the extra pass between our teammates have really been a good dynamic,” said Mickelson, who finished with 16 points and hit four threes. “My confidence level is pretty high right now. We just have to continue to work as a team.”
The Rebels then rallied with an 11-3 run, cutting the Saints’ lead down to two after a pull-up jumper from Carlson.
A Jaelyn Haler basket was quickly answered by Lizzy Baird three. Baird would connect on another jumper to give the lead back to the Rebels.
With just under two minutes left, Kaydi Anderson would put the Saints up for good, with a pair of layups. Haler and Ellie Becker free throws sealed the win for the Saints, who escaped with a 58-54 win.
Renata Hernandez and Kaydi Anderson each finished with 10 points. Ellie Becker and Jaelyn Haler each chipped in nine. Kelsey Grunewald and Addie Bowers each collected two. Katie Dylla led all scorers with 17 points.
Lizzy Baird poured in 15. Hannah Olson and Kaylee Carlson each finished with eight.
The win snaps the Saints four-game slide and improves their record to 4-8. With the loss, United South Central drops to 1-13 on the year and extends their losing streak to nine. The last win for the Rebels came all the way back on December 11th.
The Saints travel to Windom tonight to face-off against the 8-6 Eagles.