STE. GENEVIEVE – With the lane constantly crowded at each end of the court, the Ste. Genevieve and North County girls basketball teams were justifiably patient and selective with possession.
Versatility became a deciding factor on Thursday night as the host Dragons were first to completely revive their slumbering offense in a key conference opener.
Ste. Genevieve put together a pivotal 13-0 run in the fourth quarter, and became the latest opponent to suppress the Lady Raiders while earning a 36-26 triumph.
Sydney Bumgardaner compiled 14 points plus 14 rebounds, and played an integral role as the Dragons limited their opponents to several one-shot possessions down the stretch.
Fellow sophomore Maci Reynolds shared game-high scoring honors with 14 points, and was perfect on six consecutive free throws to help seal the victory.
Ste. Genevieve (10-3, 1-0) prevailed for the fifth time in six games, and entered the fourth quarter with a narrow 21-19 lead after Reynolds banked in a difficult runner.
North County (8-4, 0-1) capped a taxing stretch of 12 straight contests away from home over the first six weeks of the season, and briefly had an advantage in the fourth quarter.
Alyssa Huber double-clutch to score on the run, and sophomore Emily Veach swished a 3-pointer from the left corner to establish a 24-22 edge with 6:10 to play.
But the Lady Raiders, who missed numerous chances to score within five feet, were blanked over the next 5 ½ minutes while held to a season-low scoring output.
Reynolds dished to Jennifer Humbolt for a tying jumper, and Bumardaner migrated to the perimeter to drain a 3-pointer that put the Dragons ahead to stay at 27-24.
An excellent assist from Marysa Flieg to Bumgardaner stretched the margin, and Reynolds cashed in from the charity stripe following a missed free throw and ensuing turnover by North County.
Kayleigh Winch totaled nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Lady Raiders, but the star forward was shadowed by two or more defenders in most instances.
Ella Gant added seven points and five steals in defeat. She tied the contest at 13-13 with a steal and layup, then traded 3-pointers with Bumgardaner late in the third for a 19-19 score.
The clubs combined for only 11 field goals during a sluggish first half. Winch collected three baskets after teammate Julia Christopher opened the game with a 3-pointer.
Flieg countered with two jumpers for Ste. Genevieve, and Bumgardaner cleaned up her own miss just before the first quarter concluded.
Reynolds twisted to split a double team with a successful leaner off the glass, and the Dragons took a 13-11 lead into the break.
North County began the season on a six-game win streak, and has since averaged just 33 points in four recent setbacks since then.
The action was delayed for several minutes in the first quarter to rectify a malfunctioning buzzer that activated each time the game clock was stopped.