Parkway South meets St. Joseph’s Academy with a trip to girls state tourney on the line
By: Warren Mayes
A trip to the Class 5 girls state high school basketball tournament is one the line. For the St. Joseph’s Academy Angels, it’s familiar territory. For the Parkway South Patriots, it would be something new.
The two teams meet in a quarterfinal game at 2:45 p.m. Saturday (March 10) at Lindenwood University in St. Charles.
The Angels are a perennial state contender. St. Joseph’s Academy has been to state five times in the past 11 years. The last state title for the Angels came in 2004.
The Patriots reached the quarterfinals twice in school history. Those trips were in 1995 and 1996. Parkway South has never been to the Final Four.
The two team met for the district championship in 2004 and 2008. The Angels won both games.
Parkway South is on a roll heading into the game. The Patriots have won 15 consecutive games and 20 of their last 21.
“We are happy to be still be in the gym practicing,” Parkway South coach Thomas Williams said. “The team is loose, but when it is game time they are focused.”
While acknowledging his team is playing well, Williams noted the Patriots can play better.
“We still have room for improvement,” Williams said. “We are playing together and our bench has really stepped up.
“We are playing our best basketball, but we have to stay disciplined and out of foul trouble versus St. Joe’s.”
Angels coach Julie Matheny said her girls are happy to be playing.
“It’s an exciting time of year. The girls understand what is at stake and are trying to be prepared as possible,” Matheny said. “It’s like studying for exams.”
Parkway South defeated Parkway Central 50-47 in its sectional game Wednesday. The Patriots rallied from a seven-point deficit in fourth quarter to defeat the Colts.
The win impressed Williams.
“It was a character win. We could have easily given up, and resigned ourselves to the fact that we had a great year, but the girls kept battling,” Williams said. “We had been in that position before versus Blue Springs South, so it was nice to have that experience under our belts, but it feels good to have a second life.
“To go this far you have to have every kid contribute and we are fortunate that the kids off the bench come in and contribute.”
Brittany Thomas leads the Patriots offense with 15.4 points a game. Becca Steins adds 13.7.
St. Joseph’s whipped Jackson 56-31 in its sectional game Wednesday. However, Matheny said her girls know there’s much more basketball to be played.
“(It’s) Back to business. We are preparing for Parkway South the same as we do for every game,” Matheny said. “The girls continue to work hard and compete harder in practice each day.”
Sydney Stipanovich is important to the Angels with 15.3 points a game along with 11. 7 rebounds and 6.2 blocked shots. The 6-foot-3 Stipanovich is going to college at the University of Pennsylvania. Erin Nelson, a Saint Louis University recruit, averages 16 points.
“They are a solid team led by Stipanovich and Nelson,” Williams said. “They have great coaches, and I know they will be prepared.”
To earn that first trip to state, Williams said his Patriots must do two things.
“We have to stay out of foul trouble, and be the more aggressive team,” Williams said.
The Angels have won six straight and 13 of 15 with the two losses to being to undefeated Incarnate Word Academy and powerful Rock Bridge.
“I think we were playing well then — both of those teams are really good,” Matheny said about Incarnate Word and Rock Bridge. “We played with them and hopefully, we learned what we need to do to get better. Are we peaking? – Let’s hope so! As they say, “Now or never.” The Angels have good team chemistry.
Matheny said that’s important.
“I am happy everybody knows how important they are to our team for us to be successful,” Matheny said. “We are very unselfish — that’s just not in this teams DNA.”
The Angels know they are facing a good team in Parkway South, Matheny said.
“They are solid, quick, well coached, and hungry,” Matheny said. “We have to take care of the boards and limit our turnovers. We want to have fun and enjoy the moment.”