After experiencing two very different victories to get to the class 4 district 8, championship game at Hannibal Friday against St. Dominic's, the Mexico varsity girls basketball team seemed ready for just about anything.
But, when the Lady Crusader's flipped the script on the Lady Bulldogs by selling out on defense on the inside game, that led to deficits of 16-6 and 23-11 at the end of the first and second quarters, respectively. When Mexico then fell behind 33-18 at the end of the third despite nine points by Adria Costley and seven points by Raghan Smith for the game, it was an all-out stampede after that to bridge the gap after that, which fell short as St. Dominic's came out ahead 47-27.
"One difference was makes at the free throw line, and part of that was us not attacking the rim and finding a way to get to the free throw line," said coach Ed Costley. "I thought that was a key along with the 50/50 loose balls. We didn't get a lot of the rebounds. St. Domininc's is a strong rebounding team. They're tough when it comes to going at they boards. We also didn't always do a good job finishing on defense."
Things were off from the start in this one for the Lady Bulldogs because, despite two field goals by Adria Costley, they were down 10-4 at 3:18 of the opening quarter. Logan Blevins then scored two of her four four points for Mexico, but that was only after the Lady Crusader's Ella Kusabke had gone 2-for-2 at the free throw line and hit a pair of three-pointers.
"I thought they were able to get to the rim and pick up fouls, but we didn't do a good job of attacking the lane and getting to the free trow line ourselves," Ed Costley said. " We took the perimeter instead of attacking the basket. St. Dominic's did a good job of collapsing in the paint. But, it wasn't that they were just collapsing, it was how well they were closing and and getting back out to the shooters. A few times offensively we might have been overthinking things."
In the third the points were scarce for the Lady Bulldogs, but Smith did make two free throws at 7:43 and Blevins clocked a basket early followed by a late triple by Adria Costley. In response, Kasubke, scored five for the session for St. Dominic's while several others split their free throws to make it a 15-point affair heading into the fourth.
"We were trying to catch the ball in the usual spots and they weren't giving us the usual spots. We had to find different ways," said Ed Costley. "St. Dominic's did a really good job defensively. They took away what we like to get. What we're accustomed to. They're really strong at taking away the high post. We didn't work well along the base line. The base line is where we needed to attack. We didn't do a good enough job of that."
Even though the final three minutes of this contest was mainly spent at the free throw line, Taylor Sherrow and Raigan Playter did start the fourth with hoops for the Lady Bulldogs. Adria Costley and Smith also charted baskets, and that's when the fact St. Dominic's went 16-for-24 from the charity stripe became more evident than ever before. That includes Kasubke making 9-of-12 free throws for the contest.
"I've been very pleased with the way Adria Costley has grown over the years. I think it's hard for people to understand the game management skills she has," Ed Costley said. " She keeps people calm. Coming into this game, I think she was hoping to get an opportunity and came up just short of the assist record for the school held by her sister, Brooke Costley, but that's Adria. She doesn't want the scoring record. She wants the assist record."
St. Dominic's next plays March 6th at 6 pm in the class 4 sectionals at Francis Howell Central High School in St. Charles against the district 7 champion.