For three quarters, St. Pius X tried — without success — to get the ball inside to 6-foot-2 junior post player Abigail Hipp. It wasn’t working and the Warriors’ entire offense seemed out of sync.
But St. Pius clawed its way back, took its first lead with about two minutes left in the game and went on to defeat Southern Boone, 57-55, in the Missouri Class 3 girls basketball third-place game on Friday at Mizzou Arena.
When the Warriors looked Hipp’s way early, Southern Boone defenders swarmed.
“As soon as I got the ball, they double teamed me pretty fast. In the first half, I wasn’t really handling it very well,” said Hipp, who managed just one free throw in the first quarter and six points in the second quarter.
Southern Boone led 43-40 after three quarters, then scored the game’s next six points. Pius responded with an 11-0 run, including a basket by Hipp to tie the score at 49 and a basket by Amanda Hayes to give the Warriors their first lead with 2:10 left in the game.
“In the second half, I focused on holding the ball strong and when they doubled, kicking it to a teammate,” Hipp said.
Hipp finished the game with 17 points, but it was teammate Natalie Denzer, a junior, who kept the Warriors clinging to hope. Denzer sliced her way through the defense numerous times and finished with a game-high 20 points.
“In the locker room at halftime, the girls talked about never giving up,” said Pius coach Bob Fenzel, who added that the Warriors’ 26-4 final record was the best in program history.