For all of the scouting and preparation thrown into St. Pius X’s second straight trip to the Missouri state semifinals, the Warriors’ most significant point of emphasis had little to do with the opposition. After they fell behind early in their previous two playoff games, they spent the past three days cycling through drills they felt would lead to a better start.
How’s this for a result?
St. Pius X scored the first 17 points of its Missouri Class 4 semifinal, rolling to a 59-34 victory Thursday against Dexter at Mizzou Arena.
St. Pius X (26-3) will play for its first state championship in school history at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We knew that we had to start hard because our past two games were rough,” senior guard Natalie Denzer said. “We knew if we started well, we would have the game under control. We were ready to go.”
The run was as quick as it was decisive. Five seconds into the game, Denzer swished a shot from the corner. Within two minutes, Abby Hipp and Antoinette Mussorici added buckets.
The rout was on. The Warriors’ top scoring trio accounted for 43 points. Hipp posted a double-double before the third quarter was done and finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
St. Pius X held Dexter to 34 points after Dexter had averaged 67.8 points per game during the postseason. Dexter (22-9) had made 203 three-pointers this season. It made only 2 of 12 on Thursday.
St. Pius X placed third in Class 3 last season.
“There were nerves coming into this arena and playing in this atmosphere (last year),” St. Pius X coach Bob Fenzel said. “They were well-prepared this year. They knew what to expect, how to act, stuff like that. It makes a tremendous amount of difference knowing the atmosphere they’re going into.”