By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
SPRINGFIELD - Bishop LeBlond rushed out to an 8-0 start, but then led only 11-8 at the end of the first quarter.
By the halfway point of the second, though, it was apparent that New Haven would not be able to keep up.
The Golden Eagles (28-3) drained 11 three-pointers and dominated on the defensive end as well in a 45-23 victory over the Shamrocks of New Haven in a Class 2 state semifinal at the Hammons Student Center in Springfield Friday.
Senior Tatum Studer was simply on fire to start the game, scoring all of her game-high 16 points in the first half, helping the Golden Eagles grab a 24-12 halftime lead. Studer had 10 in the second quarter alone.
"After I felt that first three go in, I knew I was going to be hitting them," Studer said happily. "That first half at least. As soon as I got it, I looked to shoot and if it was open, I just pulled it."
LeBlond leaned on its defense out of the gate in the second half, holding New Haven to only two third quarter points. The Shamrocks, in fact, only scored six total points in the second and third quarters combined.
"When I think of basketball a lot of times, I think of defense," senior Shae Lewis said. "I love playing defense, and I think that's what important for this team is we're good defenders. We have active hands, so I think it's defense that helps us win most of these games."
LeBlond added 15 more points to its total in the fourth quarter, including two more threes from senior Katie Beam and another from Lewis.
Lewis and Beam each finished Friday with 12 points. Lewis scored 10 of that in the second half. Beam scored all of her points on four made threes.
The Eagles were 11-of-25 from three, while New Haven was just 2-of-12. The Shamrocks were held to just 29.4 percent shooting as a team. LeBlond also forced 16 turnovers, including 10 steals.
LeBlond now advances to the Class 2 state championship game on Saturday night at 8 p.m. to face Tipton (30-1) at Great Southern Bank Arena. The game will be on KFEQ Radio (680, 95.3, 680kfeq.com, KFEQ app) with pregame starting at 7:45.
This marks the first time since 1983 that the LeBlond girls have advanced to a state title game. That just so happens to be the first, and so far only year, that the Golden Eagles won it all in girls' basketball.
"We just have to remember it's just another game," Studer said. "It is our last game, which I'm blessed we made it this far. We just have to remember it's another game and we have to buckle down and we have to play."
Full game broadcast
Shae Lewis, Tatum Studer postgame interview
Other area state basketball results
Class 1 3rd place game - GBB in Missouri
Platte Valley 46 Leeton 42
Class 1 3rd place game - BBB in Missouri
Platte Valley 81 Glasgow 45
Class 2 state semis - BBB in Missouri
Principia 65 Plattsburg 63. It's Plattsburg's first loss of the season. At 30-1, the Tigers face Hartville for 3rd place on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Class 4 state quarterfinals - BBB in Missouri
Lafayette 61 Center 41. Camden Bennett had 23 points. Mikey Thomas had 15. The Irish are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2016. The Irish will face Central Park Hills (27-3) in state semifinals on Thursday at noon.
Class 1A Division I - GBB in Kansas
Doniphan West 52 Norwich 38. The Mustangs play in Dodge City at 2 p.m. Saturday for the title. They'll face Quinter (22-3).
Class 2A - GBB in Kansas
Riverside 45 Pittsburg St. Mary's Colgan 42 - OT. St. Mary's Colgan was the No. 1 seed and 23-0 previously. Riverside will face Elbing-Berean Academy (23-1) or Hillsboro (21-3) for the title on Saturday at 6:15 in Manhattan. This marks Riverside's first appearance in a girls' basketball state title game.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.