St. Mary’s bested Colorado Springs Christian with a comeback for the ages.
The Pirates, who were down by as much as 15 in the second quarter, rallied to defeat the Lions 44-41 in front of a home crowd Friday night. St. Mary’s remained undefeated and improved to 16-0 on the season and 10-0 in the loaded 3A Tri-Peaks league. The win puts St. Mary’s in the driver’s seat to win the league with three games left on the schedule.
The Pirates got big plays from all their top players to recover from a 21-6 second-quarter deficit. Sophomore Josephine Howery led St. Mary’s with 16 points, including two second-half 3-pointers, one that completed the comeback for the Pirates in the third and another to break a tie midway through the fourth quarter.
The Pirates overcame a slow start and multiple turnovers due to risky passing on offense to beat the Lions who came out of the gates swinging. Everything was going CSCS’ way in the opening eight minutes. The Pirates struggled to make shots and the Lions were on fire. Junior Megan Engesser scored nine points in the first quarter. She would finish with a team-leading 16 points. An unbelievable sky hook off a spin from CSCS junior Abby Knedler punctuated the team’s excellent first quarter. CSCS led 16-6 after one.
The way the first quarter played out reminded St. Mary’s coach Mike Burkett of a game the Pirates played against Pueblo East.
“We got down earlier in the season to Pueblo East like that and we just fought,” he said. “We said, ‘We’ve gotta take this one step at a time, this is a good team and we’ve gotta start doing things we were capable of doing' and we started doing those things.”
That began with making shots. Howery scored six second-quarter points and sophomore Brooklyn Valdez and senior Mary Cummings both scored from beyond the arc to bring the Pirates within eight at the half.
St. Mary’s outscored CSCS 12-1 in the third quarter and held on for victory in the fourth, much to the excitement of a packed crowd at St. Mary’s.
“We wanted to get as many people as we could out here and all week we were preparing because they’re such a great team,” Howery said. “It’s fun to get this win because it’s such a big rivalry at our school. It’s just fun in this crowd in this energy and we knew we had to give them a good game and a good finish.”
Despite the fun times, Burkett knows the joy will be short-lived. There’s a good chance the Pirates see the Lions again in the playoffs.
“This is not the end of the saga because CSCS is one of those teams you’re going to have to play in the future. Now they’ve got this feeling,” Burkett said. “It’s one of those things where it’s great to get this win, it helps us down the road as far as RPI (Rating Percentage Index), all the things that get you into the tournament. It’s like building a resume and that’s what we did tonight, we put a great job experience on our resume.”