DECATUR – There were moments early in Tuesday night's game when Bellmont coach Andy Heim thought his team would run away with a win over Bishop Dwenger.
But the Saints (0-4) made their hosts work for it, and Bellmont (3-0) won 67-56 after leading by 22 points at the end of the third quarter.
“This is the first time we've seen pressure, especially full-court pressure,” Heim said. “I think at times we handled it well and at times we acted like we haven't faced full-court pressure.”
Bellmont looked fantastic in the opening minutes, hitting the first four shots from the floor and building a 9-2 lead.
“I'm not sure we've looked better, even when Grace (Hunter) was here, than in that first eight minutes, 10 minutes of the game. That was really good basketball by them,” Heim said, referring to the Indiana All-Star player who graduated in 2019.
“It's not just tonight, it's the last two games, we've been really good. We took a week off because we had to quarantine. We had one practice before Woodlan, and we played them really hard. And then a mid-week game off a little bit of a long weekend, we looked really good.”
Bellmont shot 9 for 14 from the field in the first quarter, outscoring Bishop Dwenger 21-12, but even in the first quarter the Saints hit two 3-pointers that kept things from getting completely out of hand, a trend that would continue through the entire game.
Bellmont scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, but a layup by Saints senior Maggie Cheever and then a 3-pointer by senior Rachel McCarthy right before halftime cut the Bellmont lead to 38-25.
Bellmont went on another scoring run at the end of the third quarter, propelled by senior guard Faith Morris, who hit a 3-pointer, scored while being fouled and then hit the free throw to complete the four-point play. In the final seconds of the quarter, she was fouled while trying a 3-point shot, then hit all three free throws for a 54-32 lead.
Morris went 6 for 6 from the foul line and her team was 19 of 22 overall, including 7 of 8 in the fourth quarter. That was just good enough to hold off the Saints. That was a critical turnaround for Bellmont, which had shot around 54% from the line in the two previous games this season.
The Saints hit six of seven free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and narrowed the gap to nine points with four 3-pointers, three of them by junior Mackenzie Sokol.
“They hit some timely 3s, they hit some big 3s, they hit some deep 3s. And it came from girls who are not typically, from what I've seen, their big scorers,” Heim said. “We keyed in on No. 11 (Lexi Linder), and she didn't do a whole lot outside, but she was passing it to the teammates who were open, and they definitely kept themselves in the game by hitting the 3.”
Morris led all scorers with 19 points, Shifferly scored 17 and junior Kenzie Fuelling had 14. Cheever led the Saints with 14 points and McCarthy scored 10.