MICDS will battle undefeated Incarnate Word Academy in girls sectional action
By: Warren Mayes
MICDS finally got past Westminster Christian Academy in the district championship game. For their reward, the Rams get to play undefeated Incarnate Word Academy.
Thank you very much.
However, MICDS coach Scott Small said his Rams (24-2) are embracing the challenge of facing the Red Knights (26-0) at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday (March 6) at Parkway West.
“The kids are really excited,” Small said. “They know that they face a very talented team but appreciate the opportunity to compete in March.”
MICDS got past arch rival Westminster 74-65 in overtime to win the Class 4 District 6 championship at Clayton High. It marked the
Incarnate Word dropped down to Class 4 this year after being in Class 5. The Red Knights sailed to an 82-62 win over the Miller Academy Phoenix to win the Class 4 District 5 final at Soldan High.
The Red Knights have won four district titles in a row and 10 out of their last 11.
The stakes are always high at Incarnate Word.
” To be honest our sights are set on a state championship and anything else will be a disappointment,” Red Knights coach Dan Rolfes said.
Small had high hopes for his squad heading into district play.
“We have focused all year on playing the best basketball we can — dictating our tempo and keying everything with defensive effort,” Small said. “We obviously had a larger goal of winning the district, but we knew that if we took care of execution on both ends, we had a chance of doing so.”
Westminster lost the district title game to MICDS in 2010 but defeated the Rams the past two years. Small did not bring up any of that history before the title game.
“We did not talk about the fact that this would be the fourth district championship game meeting in a row,” Small said. “We talked about how perseverance and teamwork would be critical in a matchup that was 1-1 on the season. The girls knew what to expect, so we just talked about attacking and playing fearless basketball.”
It looked like the Wildcats would make it three in a row. Westminster opened a 13-point lead in the first quarter.
“Clearly they did not listen to our pre-game talk,” Small quipped. “We took a time-out late in the first quarter after they opened up a 13-point lead on us and reminded ourselves of what had gotten us to this point. The girls took it from there.”
MICDS trailed by five points with 1:18 in regulation. But they found a way. A big basket from Taylor Baur and a free throw from Emily Kyman with 2.9 seconds left got the Rams into overtime.
“It took some courage and determination in that final minute,” Small said. “In OT, I thought our kids took over the game.”
It was only the second district title in school history for the girls program.
“This was big,” Small said. “We were really thrilled with the number of students that came out to support the girls. They were a big part of our success and it was a neat night for the MICDS community as a whole. The 2010 win was great as a precedent, but the energy on Thursday was even bigger. That was one of the best girls district games or basketball games in general that I have seen, let alone be involved with.”
While the Rams might have had some uneasy feelings about meeting Westminster again, Incarnate Word expected to get past Miller Academy.
“We did expect to win,” Rolfes said. “We had beat them pretty convincingly in early January so I think our kids had a lot of confidence going into the game.
“We talked about being confident and playing hard. Some of the players who have not been in a game of this magnitude were a little nervous.”
Even though Incarnate Word won by 20 points, Rolfes said the defense could have performed better.
“We played pretty well,” Rolfes said. “We gave up more points then we like to but at this time of year a win is a win.
“I thought we played good but not great. We all know that we will have to play great to win a state championship.”
Now, it’s on to the sectional game.
“They are a very good team, great athletes,” Small said. “We don’t have much history with them as they have always been 5A in the past and play a different schedule.”
MICDS has to win to advance to the quarterfinals. Small said he knows how big the task is for the Rams.
“We have a big challenge in front of us, but this team has matured quickly and already accomplished things that I don’t think many people expected them too, so I could not be more proud of how far they have come,” Small said. “As with everything, to advance further the work ethic needs to remain and you have to get a few bounces your way. ”
Rolfes said his girls are looking forward to the game.
“They are excited,” Rolfes said. “We know we are going to have to play well to win but this is such an exciting time of year. We have not played them since 2003. They have a good record and have some very good young players. They mix up defenses well and have some good athletes.
“For us everything starts with defense. If we play well defensively I think we will have a good shot of winning.”