Incarnate Word senior center Rickie Woltman knew she had an opening.
When 5-foot-11 Cardinal Ritter guard Brit'Nee Terry fouled out with a little more than two minutes to play Tuesday, that was one less obstacle Woltman and the Red Knights had to face in a showdown between two of the area's best girls basketball teams.
The Lions still had 6-2 senior forward DeAnna Wilson and 6-1 sophomore forward Kristin Booker to make life difficult, but Incarnate Word exploited the loss of Terry to come from behind for a 52-43 victory at Ritter.
“They had a lot of size, especially when all three of their bigs were in there,” Woltman said. “That created problems for us and it was really important when (Terry) picked up her fifth foul. Her coming out helped a lot because it gave us a smaller lineup to face.”
Woltman scored a pair of baskets to start a game-ending 10-0 run for the Red Knights (14-1, No. 1 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings).
The game featured 10 lead changes and five ties, and Cardinal Ritter (7-2, No. 3 small school) led as late as 43-42 with 5:47 to play before going cold.
Senior guard Marisa Warren led four Incarnate Word players in double figures with 14 points. Kate Rolfes and senior guard/forward Kiki Britzmann added 13 and Woltman had 10.
“We talk every year about putting a schedule together that is going to challenge us in the hope that we see all different types of teams and different types of styles and we see a lot of them on the road,” Red Knights coach Dan Rolfes said. “They gave us all we wanted tonight, for sure. I think it kind of (opened) a couple kids' eyes. We've kind of coasted the last couple games. It woke us up, for sure.”
After a tough first quarter, Cardinal Ritter responded in a big way. Ritter turned an 18-7 deficit after the first quarter into a 30-28 halftime lead and then carried a 40-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Lions coach Tony Condra said while he was proud of how his team fought back, he thought the rough start was costly.
“We missed a lot of easy layups in that first quarter, we missed seven,” Condra said. “That's 14 points and we've got to finish around the basket and execute. I am proud of the way they rebounded, but this is just a testament of how much more work we've got to do.”
Senior guard Ryann Haynes led Ritter with 14 points while Terry added eight.
Kate Rolfes, a junior guard for the Red Knights, helped shoot her team out to the lead with eight points in the first quarter. That included a 25-footer at the buzzer.
“I felt like we had the momentum when we hit that shot,” Dan Rolfes said. “I was hoping we'd carry that in, but we just gave them too many easy looks and didn't defend well. We let them claw back in and they got the momentum. When you're at home and that team gets momentum, you never know what can happen. You could be in for a dog fight. We were.”
For Cardinal Ritter, the game also marked the second consecutive contest in which Whitfield transfer and University of Missouri signee Aijha Blackwell was on the team's bench in street clothes. Condra said the petition to allow the 6-foot guard/forward to play in her final semester of high school eligibility is in the state association's hands.