BY JOHN DUBOIS
The Seeger Lady Patriots made their first ever appearance at the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devil Classic a memorable one Thursday as the Patriots capped their day with a 41-29 win over the host Blue Devils.
Freshman Hannah Gustus had a game high 16 points, with Kirsten Irvine adding eight points, and Miranda Synesael seven points.
Following the graduation of several key players from a 20-win team last season, Seeger has had an up and down start to this season, but the Patriots have seen things turn around recently and now have a three-game winning streak.
“We don’t have a superstar player and that’s the kind of scoring balance we have been getting,” Seeger coach Brent Rademacher said. “We don’t run a lot of set plays for anyone and try to take what the defense will give us, but the Bismarck defense doesn’t give you many clean looks.
“We felt one thing they were giving us was the skip pass and we tried to take advantage of that. We work a lot on back cuts and run a Princeton style offense. We didn’t always complete the opportunities, but overall we did a great job of getting to the basket.”
“One reason I am so proud of our defensive effort tonight is that Seeger runs some really good stuff on offense,” Bismarck-Henning coach Mike Stephens said. “They are an excellent coached team. We had three freshmen on the court at times tonight, and we have a team that works very hard and listens. We don’t have any deception to our passing on offense but we have an excellent senior leader in Lexi Ballard who is all you could ask for in a senior leader, and we will get better.”
The Blue Devils were led by 13 points from Addie Voyles, with Brooke Walsh and freshman Lindsay Andrews adding six points each.
The Patriots would get out to a 6-2 lead but the Blue Devils rallied to tie the score 8-8. Seeger would make a late basket to end the first quarter with a 10-8 lead.
A 3-pointer by Synesael would give Seeger its largest first half lead at 15-10, but a buzzer beater by Voyles would cut the lead to 17-14 going into halftime. A 9-2 run to open the second half would essentially put the game away.
“Defense was the key to the fast start in the second half,” Rademacher said. “Our half court trap was effective and Miranda Synesael on the point for us defensively did a great job. We also started to do a better job of shooting the gaps. We tried to establish a strong defensive presence early in the game to get us going.”
Stephens was also impressed with Synesael.
“She is very long and very effective on defense, Stephens said. We struggled against their trap all night, especially early in the second half.”
The Patriots would end the third period up 28-18. The lead would reach a high of 14 points in the fourth quarter with Gustus scoring the last three points for the Patriots.
“Hannah Gustus has been a spot starter for us and is blessed with God-given speed,” Rademacher said. “She is able to use that to her advantage and is coming along as a player.”
In their first game of the day, the Patriots defeated the Villa Grove Blue Devils 53-39.
“We played pretty well after the first couple of minutes, said Seeger assistant coach Dave Brown. We got into some early foul trouble, but played solid defense for the rest of the game.”
Bismarck-Henning also won their first game, 29-21 over the Salt Fork Storm.
“That was really an excellent win for us”, Stephens said. Lindsay Andrews had some key baskets, we played strong defense, and proved we could come back and win.”
The Storm also lost 43-24 to the Unity Rockets.
In other action, the defending tournament champion North Vermillion Falcons was off to a 2-0 start in defeating the Watseka Warriors 53-50 and the Fisher Bunnies 48-35.
Taylor Turchi had 16 against Watseka and 14 against Fisher for the Falcons, while Mikayla Kinneer had 23 points in the two wins and Kylee Karr had 19 points for the day.
Watseka had earlier defeated the Shiloh Raiders 56-47. The Westville Tigers got off to an 0-2 start with a 40-29 loss to the Fisher Bunnies and a 66-28 loss to the Shiloh Raiders.