The Buccaneers had a lot more than Senior Night celebrations to get excited about on Thursday night.
Coming off a big win on the road against Le Sueur-Henderson High School, the Blue Earth Area girls stayed on track and then some against St. James after a pregame recognition of coach Al Cue's 12th-grade players. Despite a field-goal shooting percentage of just 43 on the night, the maroon and gold walked all over the Saints for the second time this season, logging their second straight win and improving to 11-10 on the year with a 63-26 blowout.
"It doesn't feel like we won by that much, but we picked it up in the second half," said Cue, "and it's good to get a win, to have a good streak, so we can build on that."
Sofie Blair, a junior forward for the Blue Earth Area girls basketball team, carries the ball toward the basket during the Buccaneers’ showdown with St. Peter on Friday, Feb. 3. Blair and the maroon and gold fell to the Saints but cruised past Le Sueur-Henderson three days later, then walloped St. James on Thursday.
Seniors Samantha Barslou, Lindsey Jacobs, Brittany Johnson, Ryanne Klabunde and Samantha Ripley got the nod as BEA's starting five against St. James, and Johnson ended up pacing the Bucs' offensive attack with 11 points, the second highest total of the evening for the team.
The seniors put the Bucs up 6-3 before BEA regulars Caitlin Rorman, Lindsey Norman and Reegan Howard took the court, rotating in and out of the lineup throughout the night.
A steal by Howard, BEA's junior forward, set up a layup from Norman that soon had the Bucs leading by 10. Some in-the-paint work from Ripley extended the lead, too.
Up 22-8 before another Howard steal and assist, with Norman on her way to a team-leading 13 points, the Buccaneers went into the break leading by 12.
It was more of the same for BEA early in the second half of Thursday night's rematch, as Howard and Norman continued to feed off each other en route to a 34-14 advantage. Several double passes under the net helped the Bucs' offense stay on pace as well.
Subsequent layups by Norman and Rorman, whose 10 points gave Cue's Senior Night lineup its third double-digit scorer, pushed the Bucs into the 50s before an onslaught of three-pointers from Johnson, who sunk back-to-back shots beyond the arc to put BEA up 59-22 and all but seal the Buccaneers' big victory.
Sophomore forward Hannah Johnson also contributed with a late layup before a block by junior forward Sofie Blair as time expired solidified BEA's rout, the second against St. James in 2016-17 after a 72-20 decision on Jan. 5.
BEA 69, LSH 41
Three days after falling at home to St. Peter, the Buccaneers got back on track with a trip to face off with Le Sueur-Henderson (LSH). And getting back on track came in the form of a 69-41 trouncing of the Giants.
The Bucs' 69 points marked the second highest single-game total of the season for the maroon and goldbehind only BEA's 72-point showing against St. James on Jan. 5. And the big offensive outing ensured the girls their fifth victory in seven games, pushing the team to 10-10 on the year in advance of Thursday's rematch with the St. James Saints.
St. Peter 60, BEA 48
A 17-0 run by St. Peter to start the second half of a Friday night girls basketball showdown at Blue Earth Area High School left the Buccaneers on the comeback trail in the home stretch of Feb. 3's matchup.
But it was a trail that came up short, with the maroon and gold falling below .500 on the season with a 60-48 defeat.
The Bucs entered Friday's clash, the first game in a doubleheader against the visiting Saints, having won four of their last five, including a 62-47 rout of Jackson County Central the night before. And things leaned heavily in BEA's favor before St. Peter roared back into contention and into a sizable lead as the final buzzer drew closer.
Rushing to a 12-6 lead thanks to quick strikes from the offensive side of the ball, led early by junior forward Reegan Howard and sophomore standout Caitlin Rorman, the Buccaneers at one point boosted their lead to 10.
Coupling the fast-paced attack with a stringent defensive performance reminiscent of the team's 57-29 blowout of Fairmont on Jan. 20, the maroon and gold were up 22-12 just a few minutes into the contest.
The tight "D" did not waver much as halftime approached, but some shooting miscues offered St. Peter an opportunity to pull closer, and the Saints did just that. By the break, BEA's widening advantage had been whittled down to four points.
And when the girls returned to the court, St. Peter came out swinging, draining back-to-back three-pointers and shifting momentum for the final 18 minutes of action.
In fact, it was not until around halfway through those 18 minutes that BEA got on the board again, when a Sofie Blair layup broke a string of errant passes and 17 unanswered points from the Saints.
Another field goal by Blair, BEA's junior forward, narrowed St. Peter's sudden lead to 10 before a three-pointer by senior guard Samantha Barslou cut the deficit to single digits.
But the Saints also stayed busy on offense, rarely ending a possession without points late in the matchup.
Barslou did her best impression of a comeback leader by nailing back-to-back threes in the final two minutes of the game.
But even the second of those two treys only had the Bucs within nine points and just about 60 seconds to go.
A couple of late St. Peter baskets sealed the Saints' second-half surge, and BEA allowed the visitors to hold the ball until the 60-48 score was finalized.