Bishop Luers girls coach Mark Pixley thought his team didn't get off to a particularly hot start on offense Thursday afternoon.
But when you play defense like they did in the first quarter, that's not too much of a problem.
The Knights (9-4) held Concordia (8-5) to just three points – and just five shots from the field – in the first quarter and rode the early lead to a 49-26 win in the SAC Holiday Tournament quarterfinals at Wayne.
"We weren't really hitting on all offensive cylinders either, but we got a nice little 10-point cushion and that really kind of carried us the whole game," Pixley said.
The one Knight who did have the hot touch was junior Delaney Bailey, who scored the first seven points of the game, shooting 3 of 3 in the first quarter. Freshman Sara Sylvester followed up with a 3-pointer to give the Knights a 10-0 lead.
"We just talk about being a team all the time, and Delaney, I think she'd been in a little slump shooting-wise, and she came out of it tonight," Pixley said.
By the end of the first quarter, that advantage had grown to 18-3.
"We work on it all the time in practice, and we've really bough back into (defense)," Pixley said. "A couple of weeks ago, it might have been the Bellmont loss, we really bought into getting back the Luers defense. And since then we've been doing a really nice job on the defensive end."
A hot streak by Concordia senior Elle Fritcha closed the gap to 18-13 in the second quarter, but the Cadets never got that close again. Bishop Luers sophomore Anna Parent made two free throws to put the Knights up 20-13 at halftime, and senior Dori Javins knocked down the first bucket of the second half to stretch the lead to 22-13.
"We kind of lost our lead and our momentum in the second quarter, but coach talked some sense into us at halftime," Bailey said.
And then Bailey struck again. She hit three consecutive 3-pointers to open a 31-15 lead. She shot 3 of 4 in the third quarter and 6 of 8 for the afternoon, scoring a game-high 17 points. Janaiya Bright scored nine points, seven of them in the fourth quarter.
"I felt like my hard work has been paying off, because I've been working on my shot a lot in the off season and over the summer," Bailey said. "I think anybody on our team can get hot on any night. We're all good shooters and we all can score on any given night."
It came on a particularly good night, as senior Lydia Reimbold, who had been averaging 15.3 points for the Knights, scored just four points.
"Lydia's been carrying us a long time this season, and it was really nice to see the other girls pick Lydia up," Pixley said. "We even tell Lyd, you don't have to score 20 points. We have four other girls that can go out and get 12 or 10."
The Knights came as close to knocking off No. 1-seed Homestead as any SAC team so far this season, leading heading into the fourth quarter last Friday, but ultimately coming up short, 46-37. If the seeding holds in Homestead's game against Snider today, Bishop Luers will face the Spartans (9-1) again in the semifinal round Saturday morning.
"It'll be a fight, and I'm sure they're going to want to come out and maybe start the game a little bit stronger than they did last time, since we gave them a challenge," Pixley said. "I think we'll get their best game on Saturday morning – if we get them."