As layoffs go, a break of two weeks between games and a five-day period over the holidays when Kansas high school teams can’t practice might be unsettling.
But the St. Thomas Aquinas girls have survived the bleak midwinter without losing their on-court instincts.
In a non-league game at Olathe Northwest on Friday, the Saints rolled to a 66-38 over the Ravens despite a somewhat shaky start. Aquinas, which won two Class 5A state titles in the last three years, led only 13-6 at the end of the first quarter.
“We hadn’t played in two weeks,” senior Tia Weledji said. “We had the right ideas, but just had to complete passes and finish.”
In the second quarter, the Saints got their fast break going for an 8-0 run and led 30-15 at intermission.
By the end of three quarters, the Aquinas lead had swelled to 49-25. The Ravens got the margin under 20 points in the fourth quarter, but the Saints were able to push the margin to 28 by the end of the game.
“We played with a lot of energy and so did they,” Saints coach Rick Hetzel said. “They have some good shooters in (Shaleia) Jamison and (Shea) Shipman.”
Shipman, a senior, led the Ravens with 14 points and Jamison, a junior, added 11.
The Saints had three players in double figures. Seniors Allie Dierks and Weledji scored 14 each. Senior Kelly Sweeney had 10 points.
Dierks had three fast-break layups in that second-quarter 8-0 run.
The three seniors have been part of two 5A state championship teams.
“Our key to winning tonight was attacking the basket and not shying away from contact,” Sweeney said.
The Saints were coming off their first loss of the season, 46-24, to Columbia Rock Bridge on Dec. 20 in the Hy-Vee Shootout at Avila University.
“Rock Bridge is a very good basketball team,” Hetzel said.
The Saints are now 3-1 and will be looking to make it three state titles in the last four years come March.
“We have to buckle down on defense and play as a team,” Weledji said. “We have to take the best shot for the team at the time.”
Sweeney added, “We have to be strong with the ball and attack the basket.”
The loss for the Ravens dropped their record to 3-3.