The Pioneers have started strong, and defeated a very good Westminster team to claim the Championship of the Northwest Tournament on Saturday. The tempo was controlled by the Wildcats in the first half, as their zone slowed down the Pioneers and kept them from running successfully. But all that changed after halftime, as the Pioneers turned up the pressure and forced numerous turnovers that led to some transition baskets. Natalie Fryrear continued to shoot the ball well from behind the arc, and when Westminster took her away, Kayla Martin stepped up and hit a huge 3 late. Once the Pioneers got the lead, they just put the ball in the hands on Lianna Doty, and she ran the delay to perfection, icing the victory. Kudos to Brianna McWoods! Role players are so important to the success of a team and she did a great job in her role today. Hustle plays, defense, and a couple of made free throws did BIG things to help the team win.
Former Indiana Pacer, Mizzou Tiger, and DeSmet Spartan star, Steve Stipanovich is the coach of the Westminster Wildcats, and I couldn't help wondering, during the introduction of the starters if our players really understood who they were shaking hands with. Although only a year older than me, Steve was one of my idols. I remember reading about him and cutting out the article and pinning it on my wall. The article talked about what a great work ethic he had, and I wanted to be just like him. My junior year at Pattonville, I had the dubious honor of trying to guard him. . . I successfully held him to 32, and I still have bumps and bruises from that night.
He had one of the great college performances of all time, when he led the Tigers to an upset win over 7'4" Ralph Sampson and the Virginia Cavaliers. After college he played in the NBA, and his career was unfairly cut short by a knee injury. Ladies, you shook hands with a guy who was once one of the top basketball players in the world.
Congratulations on your Championship. Keep working hard, keep pressuring, and keep having FUN!!