STORM LAKE - The Storm Lake-St. Mary's girls basketball season lengthened its early-season winning streak to four games here Saturday at the SLHS gym, edging a physical Graettinger-Terril squad 40-35.
The Panthers proved they could play a half-court game effectively, as G-T slowed the pace on offense and used both full-court and half-court traps on defense.
Junior point guard Abby Richardson led the Panthers with 13 points. Junior off-guard Jess Lussman added nine points and senior post player Cassie Weaver six.
St. Mary's coach Ryan Berg was pleased with his team's defense, but said the offense struggled at times in the halfcourt against G-T's pressuring defense.
"I thought we made them take shots from the perimeter, which is what we wanted to do," Berg said. "They are a very physical team and had a player in the post who was really tough.
"Offensively, we had some breakdowns and weren't patient enough, but they were tough defensively," Berg added.
The Panthers had a strong start, vaulting to a 10-6 lead after the first quarter. G-T had the momentum in the second frame, outscoring St. Mary's 12-7 for an 18-17 lead at the intermission.
The second half was close throughout, but the Panthers won both the third and fourth quarters, outscoring G-T 8-4 in the third quarter and 15-13 in the fourth.
"We had a couple of breakdowns defensively in the first half, which allowed them to take the lead," Berg added. "But we made some adjustments at halftime and played well on defense in the last two quarters.
Lussman, a 5-5 off-guard, was a surprise under the boards, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. Richardson, junior Janie Imming and Weaver each added seven board with senior post player Maggie Lange adding five. The Panthers outrebounded G-T 42-31.
With the non-conference win, St. Mary's improved to 4-1 overall. The Panthers will put their 2-0 Northwest Conference record to the test this week when they host Aurelia on Tuesday night and Pomeroy-Palmer on Friday night.