TOWN AND COUNTRY — Saturday brought to an end a tough stretch of games for the Webster Groves girls basketball team.
The 56-36 win over Cor Jesu not only opened the 46th annual Visitation Christmas Tournament, but it also capped a stretch of three games — two of which were wins — in the last 72 hours.
After a loss to Westminster Wednesday, Webster (6-1, No. 1 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings) rebounded to beat Kirkwood Friday before the win Saturday.
Webster coach Josh Spuhl said that he was happy to see the Statesmen get on a roll after a loss.
“The Westminster game was tough and the kids reacted the right way,” Spuhl said. “Last night wasn’t the prettiest game but we’re moving in the right direction. We’re pretty excited.”
The team’s roll Saturday started as Webster scored the first 10 points of the game and never looked back.
Cor Jesu (1-4) cut the lead to 14-8 by the end of the first quarter but that was as close as the Chargers would get.
“Cor Jesu fought back a couple of times and I was just happy with our defense,” Spuhl said. “The team’s talking more, helping each other out and being in the right spots has really helped out a lot. The defense is really carrying us.”
Junior forward Eliza Maupin led Webster with 21 points while senior guard Gabriella Moore added 14 and junior forward Sophia Nittinger pitched in 12.
Senior guard Mallory Ronshausen not only led Cor Jesu with 13 points but she also scored her 1,000th career point on a fourth quarter jumper.
The win puts Webster into the quarterfinal round Dec. 26 at 8:30 p.m. against Lift for Life (2-1, No. 8 small schools).
Westminster 44, Visitation 33: A strong second half by the No. 3 seeded Wildcats put an end to an upset bid by a scrappy host squad.
Junior guard and Belmont recruit Brooke Highmark scored seven of her game-high 14 points in each half. Westminster coach Kat Martin said that realizing a halftime deficit of 18-13 wasn’t the end of the world helped the team recover.
“We came in and were just a little over eager,” Martin said. “We were playing like it was more than a 5-point spread. We just settled down and started working the ball. Early on, we were taking quick shots in our offense and we did better, especially in the second half.”
After Highmark’s effort Westminster (6-0, No. 2 small schools) got 10 points from junior guard Reilly Brophy as the Wildcats had to get past Visitation after defeating the Vivettes 59-21 Nov. 20 to open the season.
Sophomore guard Annie and Katie Restovich led Visitation with 12 points apiece.
Cardinal Ritter 49, Nerinx Hall 36: A strong second half opened up what was a close game as the fifth-seeded Lions rolled to victory to open its portion of the tournament.
A 19-17 lead grew throughout the second half as Ritter (6-0, No. 5 small schools) won going away.
Ritter will now face fourth-seeded Whitfield (6-1, No. 3 small schools) in a quarterfinal at 4 p.m. Dec. 26 after Whitfield beat Eureka in its quarterfinal Saturday.
Freshman guard Chantrel Clayton led the Lions with 15 points while senior forward Delesia Scott added 12.
“Even if we would have won by 20 or 30, there’s always room for improvement,” Lions coach Tony Condra said. “You can’t ever be satisfied or comfortable.”
Senior guard Mackenzie Duff led Nerinx Hall (2-3) with 29 points.
Parkway North 71, Parkway South 57: The battle of the Parkway schools had a markedly different start than the one won by North by three points at South Dec. 4.
This time North (5-1, No. 3 large schools) took control, leading by seven points after the first quarter, and never let up. North coach Brett Katz said the point was made of needing a strong start.
“We talked about it yesterday in practice and today in pregame that we wanted to start fast,” Katz said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that. They jumped on us 11-0 down at their place and we had to come back. We wanted to make sure, once we got the lead today, to not let them do what we did to them. We’re happy with the win.”
North was led by the duo of senior guard Aliyah Williams and forward Chanel Davis as the duo combined for 40 points behind 21 from Davis, who also added 10 rebounds.
“That’s a pretty good inside/outside tandem we have,” Katz said.
A pair of sophomores in forward Alivia McCulla and guard Annalise Dorr each scored 17 points for South (4-3).
Now, North will play Westminster in the quarterfinals on Dec. 26. Each team has won three games against the other since 2005. Last season, Westminster won 53-49 at Parkway North.
“That’s a lot of good players over there,” Katz said. “They run their stuff very well and they’re very organized. They’re well coached and they, obviously, have a super-talented player in Highmark.”
Incarnate Word 87, University City 10: The top-seeded Red Knights (5-0, No. 1 small schools) kept things rolling after a perfect swing through Springfield.
Incarnate, which has won two straight Visitation Christmas Tournaments, scored the first 15 points, led 33-2 after the first quarter and never looked back.
“It was good for us to get three games in a row in the early part of the season,” said Rolfes of wins over Republic, Kickapoo and Ozark. “It just helps us get into the flow and it carried over to today. I thought we did some good things. Now we have a break, so we have to practice hard next week and come back ready for three tough games.”
Sophomore post player Natalie Potts led Incarnate with 30 points to go along with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots while junior forward Morgan Ramthun added 16 and junior guard Jaiden Bryant 13.
Incarnate Word will play Marquette (7-1, No. 7 large schools) in a quarterfinal game at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 26.