For Cyclones senior guard Chelsea Schull, Thursday’s first-round game in the St. Clair Holiday Classic girls basketball tournament was all about tempo.
For acting St. Clair head coach Tim Andree, the matchup with Tri-City United was all about rebounding.
As it turned out, Schull and Andree both had a pretty good handle on things as the Cyclones outscored TCU 21-13 down the stretch to pull out a 58-50 triumph.
“When they came back on us in the second half they were running pretty well and we knew we had to slow things down,” said Schull, who finished with a game-high 25 points. “They were playing their tempo and we had to get it back down to our tempo. We had to concentrate more on defense and keep them from getting so many transition baskets.”
TCU trailed 37-27 early in the second half before going on a 10-point run to tie the game. Courtney Hentges led the rally, driving the baseline for a basket and hitting a short-jumper for four points. Alyshia Angileno put back an offensive rebound, Edith Martinez hit a 10-foot jumper and Coley Selly delivered a steal and fast-break lay-up to fuel the surge.
At that point, St. Clair took the air out of the ball and quickly built up another lead. An inside basket and two free throws from Katelyn Weber and a 30-point bomb from the right side by Kelsey Linnell helped the Cyclones take a 44-37 advantage with 4:53 to play.
The rest of the scoring came mainly at the free-throw line as Schull h it four foul shots and Linnell added two more in the final two minutes. Weber also had a press-breaking layup with 1:17 to play.
“We knew they were a good rebounding team and we were going to have to stay with them on the boards if we were going to win,” said Andree, who was filling in for ill head coach Brian Noyes. “We had to concentrate on blocking out and we did a pretty good job of that overall.”
Led by 6-foot center Angileno, TCU ended up outrebounding the Cyclones 34-27. Weber led St. Clair off the glass with seven rebounds and also had 15 points.
In addition to her 25 points, Schull finished with eight assists and two steals. Bethany Reuter had 10 points for the Cyclones.
TCU was led in scoring by Angileno with 14 points. Hentges finished with 12 points.
St. Clair improves to 5-4 and will take on the winner of Thursday’s game between Hayfield and Maple River at 6:30 p.m. in today’s semifinal round in the upper gym. TCU plays the loser of that game at 6 p.m. in the lower gym.