Once again, St. Ansgar was the underdog. Once again, their opponents came out and socked the Saints right in the mouth, jumping out to an early lead and looking like they might run them out of the gym.
But once again, the Saints calmly and coolly settled down, found their rhythm, and scrapped their way to a hard-fought victory.
St. Ansgar got off to a slow start giving up a 9-2 lead out of the gate, watching Montezuma knock down three triples in their first three possessions.
The Saints buckled down down in the second quarter however, and charged back to take a brief lead late in the second before heading into the locker room tied at 18 a piece. The Saints held the Bravettes to an ice-cold 1-11 shooting in the second, clamping down on a team that loves to push the pace and fire a lot of three pointers.
St. Ansgar was solid form the free throw line throughout, knocking down 15 of 17 attempts from the stripe.
Montezuma took a 32-29 lead into the final quarter, but just like they did in the regional final, the Saints went on a scoring flurry, putting up 22 points to close out the game for a 51-46 win.
“We were keeping them on their toes,” Junior Hali Anderson joked when asked why the Saints seem to have a knack to wait until the final quarter to put up their most buckets.
Of course they’d like to put up 20-plus points in every quarter, but Anderson said this team has always stuck together and found a way to win even when the shots aren’t falling.
“We’re a family,” Anderson said. “We’re all best friends in sports, and outside of sports. We know each other well, so we play well together.“
The Saints will now plays undefeated and top-ranked Newell-Fonda on Friday in the State Semi Finals, where the winner will earn a shot at the championship on Saturday. But hey, it’s not like the Saints haven’t been underdogs before.