St. Thomas Thanksgiving Tip-off: Best of the Rest
Perhaps Maggie Murphy should take more summers off. I'm really not sure what the talented 6-foot junior from Providence Academy was up to in May, June and July, but I know she wasn't playing AAU basketball. Murphy, a long-time member…
Perhaps Maggie Murphy should take more summers off. I'm really not sure what the talented 6-foot junior from Providence Academy was up to in May, June and July, but I know she wasn't playing AAU basketball. Murphy, a long-time member of the outstanding Crossfire Theissen team, chose not to play this summer, as did her teammate Caroline Mahowald. Based on opening day of the 2017-18 high school season, Murphy made the right choice because she played the most complete game of basketball we have seen from her in a very long time. Mahowald was pretty darn good, as well. Unfortunately Maggie's 19-point-performance wasn't quite enough as junior Aiana Whitfield had 19 of her own to lead Benilde St. Margaret's to a 48-46 win. It was the day's only nail-biter.
After starting slowly, Providence founds its legs and went on a 17-4 run to establish control of the game. Murphy was one of the primary reasons why. She is a big, strong power forward who knows how to finish through all manner of contact. Friday, she was doing that to perfection, penetrating hard from both the left and right sides of the basket, powering through defenders and leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. There was little BSM could do to stop her, and Murphy's finishing touch was outstanding. The rest of the Lions seemed to feed off her energy. Senior Anna Counts, a powerful 6'2″ post who has somehow escaped our Class of 2018 list, was a force in the paint at both ends of the floor. And little point guard Hailey Hohenecker was doing a fine job of orchestrating this performance. It was all enough for a 26-15 halftime lead.
Then Whitfield – perhaps the most unsung member of the impressive Stars Nelson summer squad – went to work along with another Crossfire guard, Cheyenne Carter. One can only imagine what kind of halftime spectacle went on behind BSM's closed doors but it was certainly effective, as the Red Knights scored the first 19 points of the second half! Equality having been restored, the teams went toe to toe the rest of the way. The game was still tied in the final 30 seconds when Whitfield was fouled at the top of the key. She calmly made both free throws for a two-point margin that held up for a 48-46 Benilde victory. It was the day's most compelling game.
De la Salle 69 Totino-Grace 25
Q: Are the De la Salle Islanders as loaded as everyone says they are? A: Yes. Next question. Totino-Grace was down 8-0 to De la Salle almost immediately on Friday, before shifty sophomore guard Carla Meyer knocked down one three to stem the bleeding and one more that offered hope. Such good feelings were short-lived, however, because once De la Salle starting running and pressing and trapping it was essentially over. What else can you say? Freshman forward Nora Francois was outstanding for the Islanders with 18 points. Senior Ayana Gardner and 8th grader Kiani Lockett had 11 apiece, while junior transfer Elaina Jones added 9 points and was a force on the glass all afternoon. Please make note: De la Salle is going to win a lot of basketball games in the next few months. A lot.
St. Agnes 59 Cristo Rey 23
Adaya Sandifer and K'Lynn Lewis might as well be twins. No, they don't look alike. No, they don't dress alike. But the two of them have been virtually inseparable since they first picked up a basketball in elementary school. Friday's season opener for the Aggies marked the beginning of Sandifer and Lewis' fifth and final season of high school ball at St. Agnes before they go their separate ways. It was not a surprise when St. Agnes rolled to a quick 8-0 lead over Christo Rey Jesuit in the tournament's opening game, a margin that quickly grew to 10 and 20 and 28 at the half. In the end, Sandifer, Lewis and their fellow senior Bailey Larkin combined for 40 points in the Aggies 57-23 win. One player who didn't score is freshman wing Brigid Boyle but she is a name worth noting. The lone bright spot for Christo Rey was junior forward Kya Phillips, a raw but talented athlete who scored 13 points for the Lady Pumas.
Winona Cotter 45 Visitation 27
Winona Cotter is, without a doubt, one of the most methodical, well-prepared teams you will find in Minnesota. I suppose it makes sense that a school known for science would dissect its opponents like it was some kind of complex lab operation. That's certainly what happened Friday as Cotter's patient, measured, almost clinical approach eventually wore down the Visitation Blazers and their seven seniors en route to a 45-27 victory. Senior guard Josie Huelskamp led the Ramblers with 15 points, while junior Izzy Northrop had 9 and crafty little point guard Mary Morgan added 6. Big forward Caitlyn Schreier led the Blazers with 8 while seniors Maria Callahan and Ellie Bastiaens added 6 apiece.
Holy Family 42 Hill-Murray 34
It was not a good day at the office for coach Erin Herman's Pioneers. They fell behind early and suffered immensely from cold shooting. From bunnies to bombs, Hill-Murray could not make a thing. In and out. Off the rim. Air ball. You name it, they missed it. Holy Family was only too happen to take advantage, which they did in the first half to build a 24-10 lead. That's right, Hill-Murray scored just 10 points in the first half. When her veterans got in foul trouble and things weren't going their way, Hermann went with the youngsters in 9th graders Bella Hartzel, Lili Mackley, and Gionna Carr. They didn't fare a whole lot better, but this is a trio of outstanding prospects who will be heard from. Led by Julia Guers, Grace Conroy and Leigh Steiner, the Fire held off Hill-Murray for an 8-point victory.