Lady Eagles Win Peoples Bank Holiday Classic
For the second time in three years and third time in the tournament's eight editions, Sullivan captured the Peoples Bank Holiday Classic on Friday with a 37-34 win over Helias Catholic.
The victory gave the Lady Eagles their second tournament championship of the season.
Kya Harbour's 3-pointer with 1:15 left helped Sullivan (8-1) close out on a 7-0 run.
Mallory Shetley did a little bit of everything in the game's final minutes, which helped the Lady Eagles overcome a 34-30 deficit.
She stole the ball and scored on a fast break with 2:31 remaining, then set up Harbour's go-ahead shot with a steal and a kickout.
With 28 seconds left, she drew a charging foul that swung possession back to Sullivan. She caught the ball on an inbounds play and forced up a shot to give the Lady Eagles a 37-34 lead.
Helias missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds.
Due to a winter storm, the tournament’s opening night on December 16 was pushed back to Wednesday. That forced the teams to play three straight nights.
Head coach Jordan Flora acknowledged the fatigue of playing three games.
“Definitely,” he said. “It wears on you. Not only three games in a row but the preparation is tough as well.”
Both Sullivan and Helias had to grit and grind through the semifinals. Borgia took the Lady Eagles to overtime. Helias slugged their way through a 34-30 win over Owensville.
Sullivan was once again able to rely on their defense to carry them on a night where offense came at a premium. For the seventh time in nine games they held an opponent to fewer than 35 points.
“That was a goal we set from the beginning,” Flora said. “These girls buy into that. If we hold teams to that number we’ll win some games.”
Flora said they didn’t shoot the ball as they would have liked, but battled.
“You can’t complain about the effort and when the shots aren’t falling, you got to do something else,” he said. “We started attacking late in the game and made shots when we needed to.”
The teams prepared themselves for a defensive battle. Sullivan swarmed the floor and forced the Crusaders to almost exclusively rely on 6-foot guard Lindsey Byers for offense. Helias opted to clog the lane, forcing the Lady Eagles to maneuver through the long limbs of Crusader defenders and look outside.
Early on Sullivan made them pay. Rylee Denbow splashed three 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Lady Eagles grabbed a 12-10 lead.
Scoring was reduced to a crawl in the second quarter. Shetley picked up her first basket when she jumped a pass, streaked down court and finished with a scoop. She earned a three-point play in the process.
Hanna Johanning dropped in a 3 with 3:04 left in the half to give Sullivan a 17-10 lead. Helias finally picked up their first points seconds later when Byers matched her on the other end.
Harbour converted a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left and gave the Lady Eagles a 19-13 lead.
The Crusaders finally found some life in the second half. Byers led a 10-3 run through the first four minutes to put Helias up 23-22.
Sullivan hit back with 3-pointers by Harbour and Payton Dudley to grab a 28-23 lead. They led 28-25 going into the fourth quarter.
Byers helped Helias go back on top. Following a layup, she floated a pass over the reach of Shetley and Denbow to Madisyn Hood. Hood was wide open in the lane and finished the shot to put Helias up 29-28.
Kylie Bernskoetter would hit a 3 from the corner and a turnaround in the lane to put Helias up 34-30 with 3:07 left.
Shetley brought the Lady Eagles within two when she stole the ball and finished on the break.
Sullivan would strip the ball from Byers as she dribbled into the lane. Helias turned the ball over, but would get it back with under two to play. They needed to run out the clock, but Shetley again came up with a steal. She dished to Harbour on the wing for the go-ahead basket.