The frustration was all over the face of Sullivan senior forward Clare Shetley.
That's because it took a late piece of defensive magic to account for a run to help the Eagles escape the quagmire that was a 36-30 girls basketball road win Thursday at Oakville.
“It was so frustrating because I play down low and their defense made it so hard for our guards to get the ball down low,” Shetley said. “We found a way when it really mattered, though.”
Down two points to start the fourth quarter, Sullivan (5-0) turned to its defense and unlocked the post on the other end for an 11-point run that led to a 35-26 lead.
Sullivan coach Jason Merkel complimented Oakville (4-2, No. 8 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings) on its tough play.
“Tonight was just lucky because we shot the ball about as bad as we've shot it all year,” Merkel said. “Our execution wasn't crisp, but we found a way to get it done. We made a couple key plays and had just enough stops. We're lucky to get out with a win. Oakville did a real good job on out guards and did not allow us to get the ball into (the post) to start our offense. They took that away from us and you have to give Oakville a lot of credit.”
Some rough execution in the first half by Oakville allowed Sullivan to jump to leads of 10-4 after the first quarter and 18-11 by halftime.
The Tigers came out of the intermission a different team. Oakville scored 12 of the first 15 points in the third quarter and took its first lead on a rebound and layup by senior guard Bridget Costello with just less than four minutes left in the quarter to give the Tigers a 23-21 lead.
“You're not going to win any varsity basketball games scoring 11 points in the first half, so our offense was a little off,” Oakville coach Laura Bishop said. “We came out and played a great third quarter. I don't play a lot of kids so I think they were tired. You could see that they were mentally and physically tired.”
The Tigers suffered their first loss of the season Wednesday, an 18-point setback to Pattonville.
Senior guard Madison Boaz led Oakville with seven points while senior forward Taylor Zarr and sophomore forward Angela Elguezabal added six points each in the defeat.
Sullivan's trio of senior guard Bria Jones, sophomore forward Mallory Shetley and Clare Shetley did plenty of damage, scoring a combined 35 points.
Jones and Mallory Shetley scored 12 points apiece while Clare Shetley added 11.
“We've had a pretty good stretch of games here lately,” Merkel said of winning the Marquette Tournament and then holding off Waynesville by four points Monday. “I know there is some fatigue here, but it was good to see the girls find a way.”