On Saturday night at McGahan Activities Center in North Platte, four teams met that have been heading in opposite directions. The St. Pat's Lady Irish came into the contest ranked No. 2 in C2 with a 12-1 record and riding a five-game winning streak, while their opponent Southwest was trying to stop a nine-game skid and improve on a 3-10 record.
The St. Pat's Irish entered Saturday's contest with a 10-2 record, ranked No. 4 in C2 and winning five in a row. The Southwest Roughriders, coming in at 2-10, had lost seven straight.
St. Pat's had little trouble while downing the Roughriders 80-39 in the first contest of the day and the Lady Irish defeated Southwest 51-26 in an Irish sweep.
St. Pat's got out to a start they have been accustomed to lately against the Lady Roughriders, as the Lady Irish began the game with a 9-2 run.
Sam Byrn scored off the tip for St. Pat's with just four seconds gone on the clock. After Kate Kelley hit from 10 feet on the left baseline for Southwest the Lady Irish went on a 7-0 run.
Brittany Lawrence hit on a turnaround jumper inside, followed by a Brook Boucher bucket after an Irish steal. After Shelby Allberry hit on one of two free throws, Lawrence closed out the run when she rebounded her own miss and put it back.
“We had another good start tonight,” said Lady Irish coach Nathan Stienike. “We were clicking early on.
“Later in the game we really struggled from the outside. We weren't very patient with our ball movement, but at times we looked really good offensively.”
Southwest closed to within five at 11-6 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the quarter on a 15-footer from the top of the key by Makayla Brooks. But it only took the Lady Irish 36 seconds to go on an 8-0 run to expand the lead to 13 at 19-6.
Mandy O'Malley started the run with two off a break and 18 seconds later hit from behind the arc on the left wing. Bryn made one of her two free throw attempts and Allberry scored in the paint. The quarter ended with a 19-8 St. Pat's lead.
The Lady Irish outscored Southwest 14-5 during the second quarter to lead 33-12 as they left the floor at half. O'Malley led the Lady Irish first-half attack with eight points; Allberry added seven, Lawrence with six and Bryn and Boucher each with five.
For the second night in a row, Lawrence posed problems in the paint for the opponent — both defensively and on offense by leading St. Pat's with 14 points. Allberry also finished in double figures with 11 points.
“It's nice to see Brittany back,” Stienike said. “She has struggled the past few weeks so it's nice to see her back on track, especially with SPVA coming up next week.
“She knew she could score in the paint,” said Stienike of Allberry, “so she was trying to get to the rim every time she touched the ball.”
The action in the third quarter slowed to a snails pace with St. Pat's outscoring the Lady Roughriders 7-5. St. Pat's had an 11-8 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter.
“It's been a long week for us with three games in one week,” Stienike said. “Maybe that had a little to do with it.
“I know they'll bounce back next week — that's just the way the offense goes sometimes. With us, we focus on our defense and hope it shows up every night.”
Stienike said the Lady Irish emphasis doesn't rest on their offense.
“We got a lot of shots,” Stienike said, “but we probably shot too many 3s and weren't patient enough, but you have nights like that. It's nice the girls fought through it and showed up and played really good defense. Our defensive rebounding was the difference in the game.”
St. Pat's (13-1)...................19 14 7 11 — 51
Southwest (3-11)..........................8 5 5 8 — 26
SP stats: (2 pt, 3 pt, ft, pts) Anna O'Malley 1, 1, 1/2, 6; Mandy O'Malley 1, 2, 0/0, 8; Sam Byrn 2, 0, 1/4, 5; Brook Boucher 1, 1, 0/0, 5; Shelby Allberry 5, 0/ 3/4, 11; Brittany Lawrence 7, 0, 0/1, 14.
SW stats: Ashley Ryan 1, 0, 2/4, 4; Abby Daffer 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Kate Kelley 4, 0, 0/0, 8; Makayla Brooks 2, 0, 2/2, 6; Marissa Chambers 2, 0, 0/0, 4; Kimberly Lord 1, 0, 0/0, 2.
* * *
Irish cruise to win
St. Pat's opened their game with Southwest with a 10-0 run and they owe much of it to 6-foot, 2-inch senior Joseph Clinch. Clinch scored the first eight points for the Irish, all coming in the paint.
“We went in to him early and he was able to convert and that got us off to a good start,” St. Pat's coach William O'Malley said. “It got us rolling in the right direction.”
Mayfield also took part in the run, scoring on a fast break,
Southwest's Dylan McConville put a halt to the Irish run by hitting two free throws on a shooting foul. The Irish would go on to lead 15-6 heading into quarter two.
St. Pat's left no doubt in the outcome of the game during the second quarter, outscoring the Roughriders 32-6. The Irish began the quarter with 14-0 run and after a Southwest basket, St. Pat's scored the next 13 points.
Alex Harms and Clinch led the Irish second-quarter assault with eight points each. Clinch added six points followed by Sean Keenan with five and Brandon Niesen with three. Keenan, Mayfield and Niesen each hit from behind the arc during the quarter.
All twelve St. Pat's athletes suited up for the game scored, as reserves played much of the second half.
“It really is good,” O'Malley said. “This is kind of a grind through this time of the season. So it's nice to have a game where everybody can get involved, get in the scorebook and get some kind of extended minutes.”
Clinch led St. Pat's in scoring with 14 points. Mayfield added 13 points, as no other player reached double figures.
McConville scored a game-high 20 points for Southwest.
With the SPVA tournament firing up this coming week, coach O'Malley had an agenda for this night's game.
“We just wanted to work at being efficient offensively,” O'Malley said.
“And we really wanted to concentrate on not giving up easy baskets early so we could get off to a good start.”
St. Pat's (11-2) ...............................15 32 12 17 — 80
Southwest (3-11)..............................6 6 9 18 — 39
SP stats: (2 pt, 3 pt, ft, pts) Sean Keenan 2, 1, 0/0, 7; Bryce Byrn 1, 2, 0/0, 8; Jacob Cook 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Drew McClellen 0, 0, 1/2, 1; Joseph O'Malley 1, 0, 1/2, 3; Merritt Eastman 3, 1, 0/0, 9; Brandon Niesen 1, 1, 0/0, 5; Matthew Buhrman 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Joseph Clinch 7, 0, 0/1, 14; Alex Harms 4, 0, 1/2, 9; Mark Mayfield 4, 2, 0/0, 13; Seth Lynes 3, 0, 0/0, 6.
SW stats: James Sughroue 2, 0, 0/0, 4; Brenton Ellis 1, 0, 0/2, 2; Tyler Cuellar 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Dylan McConville 2, 4, 4/6, 20; Justin Daffer 4, 0, 1/2, 9; Danny Sughroue 1, 0, 0/0, 2.