The Storm Lake girls' quest for a berth in next week's state tournament came to an unfortunate end Saturday night as the host Tornadoes fell to seventh-ranked Sioux City Bishop Heelan, 73-40.
STORM LAKE - The Storm Lake girls' quest for a berth in next week's state tournament came to an unfortunate end Saturday night as the host Tornadoes fell to seventh-ranked Sioux City Bishop Heelan, 73-40.
The defending 3A champion Crusaders led Storm Lake by just one after the first quarter of play (18-17), but a decisive second quarter saw Bishop Heelan outscore the Tornadoes 21-6, including a 12-0 run to end the half.
"We came out playing strong against ta very good Bishop Heelan team," said Storm Lake head coach Mike Wabeke. "We were right where we needed to be after one quarter, but the second quarter things started to fall apart on us. Cassie (Meylor) picking up her third foul and Katie (Blum) going down with a sprained ankle really cost us in the second quarter."
The Crusaders seemingly couldn't miss on the night, hitting 26-45 (58%) from the field, 17-22 (77%) at the foul line, and 4-6 (67%) from three-point range. Bishop Heelan's lights-out shooting widened the gap in the second half, outscoring the Tornadoes 34-17.
Storm Lake also shot the ball well, hitting 17-44 (45%) from the field, but the Tornadoes were outrebounded 26-12 and coughed up 23 turnovers, giving a potent Crusader offense too many extra possessions.
"We just couldn't seem to get our offense on track after the first quarter," said Wabeke. "We missed our free-throws, turned the ball over for easy lay-ups on the other end, and (we) never played with the same intensity the whole rest of the game."
"I thought our attitude going into this game was great," Wabeke continued. "But little things going wrong against good opponents turn into lopsided victories for the other team, and that is just what happened."
Junior point guard Carli Tritz turned in a game-high 29 points to lead Bishop Heelan. All-state center Milli Niggeling added 17 on the night.
Slone Masters lead Storm Lake Saturday night, scoring 13 points to go along with six assists, four steals, and three rebounds.
Cassie Meylor added 10 points and three steals, Morgan VanDerSloot finished with five points four assists, and four steals, and Jordan Bauer also added five points on the night.
The loss undoubtedly stings, but the Tornadoes, who finish at 16-6, have plenty to smile about as they wrap up the best season for the girls' program in over a decade, topping the 15 wins posted by the 1999 team.
The Tornadoes bid farewell to just one player following this season in senior Raisa Buchelli. Next season looks to be equally, if not more impressive for the 2009 Lakes Conference runners up. Storm Lake returns all five starters and a very solid core that includes three all-conference performers. Both Masters and Meylor were unanimous first team All-Lakes selections while Blum collected second team honors.