O'FALLON, MO. • For five consecutive years, the Lutheran St. Charles girls basketball team has ruled the Fort Zumwalt North Tournament against all comers, regardless of class.
That trend continued on Saturday.
Lutheran St. Charles knocked off Pattonville 66-48 to claim the title in the week-long affair.
Lutheran St. Charles, a Class 3 school of 360 students, rolled in front early against Class 5 giant Pattonville, which has an enrollment of 1,302.
Junior forward Jenna Grzeskowiak said that the win over a larger school shows the overall strength of the program.
“It feels really good to beat a Class 5 school with how big and how good they are and everything,” Grzeskowiak said. “We prepare a lot for this tournament and we know we can win this tournament every year with how much work we put into it. Knowing that (success) beforehand just makes us want to come in and play that much harder.”
The Cougars (8-1) got off to a quick start and never looked back. Grzeskowiak scored nine first-quarter points to stake her team to a 20-5 lead.
Pattonville coach Doug McGhee lamented the poor start.
“We didn't come out with energy and, the thing is, I thought we would come out ready to play,” McGhee said. “I have to give them credit because they ran some nice sets and they ran their offense through (Grzeskowiak). We tried to make adjustments to curtail it, but we just didn't have that energy.”
Lutheran coach Erin Luttschwager was proud of her team's intensity.
“We really felt that if we kept the ball moving and didn't stand on offense, that would be an advantage for us,” Luttschwager said. “We knew Pattonville was pretty aggressive defensively and that they want to get out in the passing lane to create turnovers. We focused on patience and cutting. We weren't just going to be able to stand around and pass the ball on the perimeter.”
Pattonville came into the contest averaging 69.6 points per game, but was held to a season low.
The Pirates (5-1) managed to cut the lead to 53-40 with just over five minutes to play. But Lutheran, led by Grzeskowiak and junior guard Jada Lindesmith, made sure the Pirates got no closer.
Grzeskowiak led Lutheran with 22 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Lindesmith added 20 points.
“They like big games,” Luttschwager said. “They've played a lot of basketball and these are the games they really enjoy. They play well off of each other and we just have good chemistry on the court.”
Senior guard Niya Danfort led Pattonville with 18 points. Junior guard Kelsey Mack added 11.
The Cougars last loss in the tournament was a 57-55 setback to North Tech in the 2013 title game.
Grzeskowiak feels that the win will help give the Cougars some momentum heading into the St. Dominic Christmas Tournament, where they are the No. 2 seed.
“This gives us a head-start going into St. Dominic later on,” Grzeskowiak said. “We can beat good teams and people know who we are. They know we have a lot going for us.”