ST. PETERS • After a first half when they had a tough time getting on track, Lutheran St. Charles Cougars hit the floor running in the the second half of the Little Caesar's/Lutheran St. Charles basketball tournament Tuesday.
Trailing by a point at halftime, Lutheran took charge in the second half, racing to a 52-32 season-opening victory against Barat.
The Cougars outscored Barat 20-4 over the first 10 minutes of the second half to turn a 21-20 Barat lead into the 40-25 Lutheran advantage.
"I felt really good because we started slow, but we pulled it off in the end," Lutheran forward Hannah Leppien said. "We tried to push the ball faster and they pressed, so we tried to get around that and we did well getting to the basket for layups."
Lutheran amassed 14 of its points during the 20-4 run on layups.
Leppien scored eight of her game-high 13 points in the second half. Jamie Skerston added 11 points.
"That (scoring spread) is kind of indicative of our team," Lutheran coach Erin Pauk said. "Any one of our players can have just an on night; they can be our leading scorer. Even for kids off the bench (like Leppien was Tuesday), it's going to be just the same as our starters and they're going to (play key roles)."
“We played pretty good defense in the beginning, but we are a young team," Barat coach Roger Luna said. "The maturity has still got to get there. I think by the end of the season, we'll be pretty good."
Sarah Lammers led Barat (0-1) with 15 points, and Alex Fortmann added eight.
Barat took the lead early and led 11-7 after the first quarter, thanks to a trio of 3-pointers -- two of which came from Lammers.
"We'd never seen Barat play before, so there's not really a lot of information I could give (the Lutheran girls) on them," Pauk said. "It's all kind of new for them. Even if you've played before, it's a new year and a new team, so you get those nerves."
The victory means Lutheran will return to its home court Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game with St. Charles West. The winner will advance to the tournament championship game Friday.
"They're a great team," Pauk said. "They hustle and have great guards and are very physical on the inside. We're going to have to match up with them on the inside."
ST. CHARLES WEST 68, O'FALLON CHRISTIAN 21 • Sarah Berjer and Abbey Lauer led West to the one-sided win Tuesday. The senior guards scored 14 apiece as West evened its record at 1-1.
"I felt more comfortable, definitely," Berjer said. "I just had to warm up the first half. I got out there in the second half and I felt relaxed. Sometimes I get myself all psyched out. Today, I was more relaxed and I just took my time."
Bri Barry added 12 points as West led 12-0 in the first quarter and 35-10 at halftime.
Krista Reese paced Christian (0-1) with 10 points.
West and Lutheran St. Charles will meet in one semifinal, and Howell Central and North Tech will play in the other on Wednesday. Howell Central and North Tech will open the evening with a 5:30 p.m. Tipoff.
Howell Central is the No. 1 seed, and West is the No. 2 seed.
"We'll take on anybody at this point in the season," West coach Ellen Parker said. "Anybody's going to be a test for us."