TOWN AND COUNTRY — On paper, it was an upset.
On the court, it was a hard-fought landmark win for the Lift for Life girls basketball team.
In the program’s first appearance in the 46th Visitation Christmas Tournament, No. 10 seed Lift for Life built a lead late in the third quarter on the way to a 60-56 victory against No. 7 seed St. Joseph’s 60-56.
“This was very big because we knew people were looking down on us,” said junior guard Taylor Brown, who led three Hawks in scoring with 19 points.
“We knew we had to play hard and prove people wrong and I think we did that.”
Lift for Life (2-1) advanced to a championship quarterfinal at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 26 against Webster Groves (6-1), which beat Cor Jesu 56-36 in the first of 32 games in the tournament that is scheduled to conclude Dec. 28.
Helped by a pair of technical fouls assessed to the Angels bench, Lift for Life closed the third quarter on a 12-4 run and at 43-33 had its biggest lead at 10 points with 2:33 left in the third.
St. Joseph’s (3-2) pulled back to within three points in the fourth quarter, but Lift for Life never lost its lead and pulled out the victory in a game that featured 18 lead changes and eight ties.
The Hawks were coming off a 44-39 loss Thursday at Union in which they were outscored by eight points in the fourth quarter.
“We just had to keep fighting through and it was the same thing I was telling them in the Union game,” Lift for Life coach Greg Brown said. “We couldn’t hit a shot late. It was like there was a lid on the basket. I told them to keep playing hard and that the shots we get will fall. They fell (Saturday).”
The Angels fell into the consolation bracket and will play Metro Women’s Athletics Association rival Cor Jesu at 1 p.m. Dec. 26.
Senior guard Emily Lally led St. Joseph’s with a game-high 20 points and junior forward Kiley Duchardt scored 16.
“You’ve got to give credit to everything (Lift for Life) did, they played a fantastic game,” St. Joseph’s coach Julie Matheny said. “They did a great job scouting us. We knew we had a height advantage, but we didn’t do anything with it. They got some key offensive rebounds, especially one late and that hurt us.”
Junior Mackenzie Wilson added 16 points for Lift for Life and senior Na’teonia Russell pitched in 11.
When the tournament resumes, Lift for Life will face Webster Groves for the first time and hope to have the same success it did in its first meeting against St. Joseph’s in its first Visitation tournament game.
“We’re going to come up with a pretty good game plan in the next day or two and we’ve just got to follow it,” Greg Brown said. “We need to stay disciplined to win. We know we’re going to face a good team but we’ve got good depth and we’re excited for this chance.”