The Knights gallop on.
The St. Mary's girls basketball team remains untouched in the loss column, this time with a 62-48 victory against Los Angeles Windward in a matchup of nationally-ranked top-10 teams at the MLK Classic on Monday afternoon.
Depending on the website of choice, both teams entered this matchup ranked in top top five of national websites (ESPN, MaxPreps.com, etc..) but the shorthanded Knights (six players available because of injuries) held the lead for the better part of the final three quarters to remain undefeated this season.
Having scouted Windward a couple times when both teams competed separately in the Nike Tournament of Champions last month, the Knights' balance and defense won out against Windward guards Jordin Canada and Courtney Jaco.
That allowed the Knights (16-0, 10-0 in power point games) to get out and run early, and, at 6-foot2, sophomore Chantel Osahor led the way.
Osahor had 16 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, including four 3-pointers with her old-school setshot method.
"She's such a matchup problem," Knights coach Curtis Ekmark said.
A 33-22 lead for St. Mary's was whittled to 44-38 by halftime, but the Knights responded when Shilpa Tummula (13 points) hit a couple free throws. Osahor hit a 3-pointer and the Knights used their pressing style to forge a 58-44 lead late in the third.
With practically no depth available and the lead, the Knights played a little more half-court style in the second half. Courtney Ekmark hit four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Senior forward Kristen Simon led Windward with 20 points.
"We teach our kids to play both sides of the floor - guards in the post and post players in the backcourt - and they're unselfish and good at figuring things out quickly," Ekmark said. "We have a lot of versatility and smart kids, and we can usually find one good matchup."
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.