FREDERICKTOWN – With neither team shooting the basketball particularly well, the Saxony Lutheran girls used defensive pressure to seize control on Friday night.
The Crusaders opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run, and continued their dominance in Class 3, District 2 by topping Arcadia Valley for a fifth straight year in the title game.
Senior center Addison Beussink recorded 14 points and 14 rebounds, and four Saxony players scored double digits during a 52-37 victory at Fredericktown High School.
Emma Brune netted 11 points, Masyn McWilliams and Laurel Mueller had 10 each, and the Crusaders (24-4) forced 21 turnovers while advancing to face New Madrid County Central (19-5) in a state sectional on Wednesday.
Junior guard Josie Landrum scored a game-high 18 points and added two steals for Arcadia Valley (17-11), which was simply overmatched along the glass.
Saxony missed six shots from within five feet during a single possession, and headed into halftime with a modest 21-16 lead after AV freshman Gracee Smith sold a head fake and converted a 3-point play.
But the reigning champs imposed a full-court scheme to make the Lady Tigers uncomfortable. Beussink scored an immediate putback, and Brune added an open layup off another turnover.
A subsequent entry pass by Arcadia Valley failed to reach its intended target, and McWilliams pushed the margin to 32-16 with a driving left-handed finish.
Landrum snapped her team’s drought with one of her four 3-pointers off a kickout pass from Makayla Moise, but was promptly matched by Brune from the perimeter.
Beussink assured the outcome with strong work inside, resulting in another second-chance field goal and four free throws during the fourth quarter.
Arcadia Valley entered the contest amid a late-season surge, winning eight of its previous 10 games. An 87-64 semifinal triumph over Twin Rivers marked its peak scoring output.
Saxony would render the Lady Tigers scoreless over the opening five minutes, however, and enjoyed a 10-0 start after Mueller buried a pair of mid-range shots near the foul line.
AV found its bearings when Landrum went back to back with Jaesa Brockes on 3-pointers from opposite corners, but still trailed 15-6 through one quarter.
The task become tougher on the Lady Tigers after Brockes picked up her third foul, and had to watch the last five minutes of the half from the bench.
A feed from Moise to a cutting Katie Whited helped keep the margin at six, but Saxony answered with a steal by Courtney Kester that sprang McWilliams for a transition layup.
Moise corralled eight rebounds in her final game for the Lady Tigers, who are projected to return four starters and multiple key reserves next year.