Keep It Moving: STAB girls’ offensive flow helps Saints advance to LIS final

St. Anne’s-Belfield’s girls basketball team is whipping the ball around on offense right now and it’s paying major dividends. 


“We’ve been working on that a lot in practice — coach will be like you can only score on lay-ups,” said STAB senior Sally Vick. “So we’re just passing and moving and cutting and we’ve gotten a lot better at sharing the ball.”


Thanks to that locked in offense and an opportunistic defense, the Saints started the postseason off on the right foot with their third win over Trinity Episcopal, this time in the LIS semifinals 67-41. 


The Saints ran on Trinity early by creating turnovers. When they did get in the halfcourt, they pushed the ball around the perimeter quickly and mostly without making mistakes. That created open 3-pointers or driving lanes and a 23-12 lead by the end of the first quarter that grew to 39-21 by halftime.


“It’s all about trying to get your team the open shot and letting the game come to you,” said STAB’s Daja Bennett. “We focus a lot on that.”


Bennett finished with 10 points, complementing strong outings from Mo Johnson with 18 points and Lyric Branch who finished with 13 points. Branch’s 13 were a season-high and came mostly in the paint with a series of assertive finishes. On a team that lacks dominant height, if Branch gets going underneath, it would give the Saints yet another dimension that’s difficult for defenses to gameplan against.


“A lot of our teammates are really good at penetrating so our main focus is getting to the basket instead of looking for the shot,” Bennett said. 


Johnson, Scottie Hull and Bennett in particular helped push the pace with deft ball handling which helped wear down the Titans. That led to moments like the end of the third quarter when Johnson picked her way toward the basket and finished easily for a buzzer-beating lay-in.


“Every time we’ve played (Trinity) since I’ve been here it’s just so competitive,” Vick said. “They’ve always been one of the toughest teams we played and this year we’ve beaten them all three times … it just feels good to have that.”


The only LIS squad that has defeated the Saints, No. 2-seeded St. Gertrude fell in a barnburner to No. 3 Collegiate, so STAB will host Collegiate Thursday in the final at 5 p.m.