On senior night, the Intermountain Christian Lions, who have had five key seniors play four years, used experience and depth to stay undefeated in region play, taking out rival St. Joseph 50-43.
The younger Jayhawks with only two seniors on the rostermade a valiant showing, however, giving the second-ranked Lions one of their closest wins of the year.
"We knew it was going to be a tight one," ICS head coach Matt Snyder said. "We match up well with speed, but it certainly doesn't help missing that many free throws."
The Lions went 12-for-29 from the line, while the Jayhawks converted 5 of 6.
The two teams only had a one-point differential through three quarters, but it only took one dominant quarter for the Lions to pull out the win. In the key second quarter, ICS outscored St. Joseph by six.
The Lions jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game before the Jayhawks showed great composure by battling back to tie the game at nine en route to a 14-14 quarter-ending tie. Senior Rebecca Jongert led the Lions in the quarter with seven points.
Both teams continued pushing the pace in the second quarter, but the Jayhawks could only convert on two field goals and ICS took a six-point lead into halftime. The Lions once again went on a 5-0 run to start the quarter, but this time they kept relentlessly pounding the ball down the court and got a little more physical on defense to keep the lead intact.
St. Joseph junior Katie Weichmann sat out with three fouls with over four minutes remaining to leave a gap in the middle on defense for the Jayhawks. ICS took advantage. Sophomore Rebecca Horak put in six to lead the Lions.
Weichmann returned to the game in the third quarter and promptly contributed three blocked shots and a turnaround jumper to give the Jayhawks a bit of momentum. When Weichmann went out with her fourth foul at the five minute mark, freshman Kristine Voet filled in admirably, and the teams traded baskets throughout, leaving ICS with another six-point lead to end the period.
The tiring Jayhawks, who relied on outside shooting for most of their points, went cold to start the fourth quarter and the Lions pressed to an eleven-point advantage before St. Joseph battled back to cut the lead to five. The Jayhawks had to start fouling, however, and ICS pulled out the seven-point win. Senior Monica Schwarz scored all seven of her points in the quarter for ICS.
Brooke Anderson (another senior) led ICS with 14 points, while Jongert added 11. Senior Lauren Jones and Weichmann each had eleven for St. Joseph, and feisty sophomore Tori Moreno contributed 10."When we play with intensity, we can play with anyone," Snyder said. "My seniors played great and finished with their first Region championship. I couldn't be happier for them."