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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

St. George’s girls beat Northwest Christian 45-33

The St. George’s girls basketball team did not need double overtime on Friday night to take out rival Northwest Christian as the Dragons took a 45-33 victory.

The Crusaders (6-6, 4-3 Northeast 2B) suffered two scoring droughts, one lasting more than 12 1/2 minutes, that allowed St. George’s (10-3, 6-0) to cruise to an important home win.

“What we have this year is a nice veteran confidence,” St. George’s coach Mark Rickard said. “I thought we played really composed tonight.”

The win was much different than the Dec. 29 meeting at Northwest Christian when the teams battled to two overtimes before the Dragons prevailed 59-53.

“I told my colleagues: ‘What an experience to have that type of game early in the season … to get you ready for the playoffs,’” Rickard said. “I was hoping that it didn’t go to double overtime again, but we were ready to battle.”

That repeat looked imminent after the Crusaders’ Steffanie Kiourkas hit two early shots and Rachel Bozlee nailed her first 3-pointer to give Northwest Christian a 10-6 lead.

But St. George’s sharpshooter Hailey Higashi was equally hot and helped fuel a comeback.

The Crusaders led 17-14 after the first period. But then Bozlee’s shot stopped falling and St. George’s held the Crusaders to only one point in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 21-18 lead.

Mattea Nelson hit a 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the third quarter to break a scoring drought that lasted more than 12 minutes for Northwest Christian. By then, the Dragons led 30-21.

However, the Crusaders got hot again and Bozlee fueled a run that got her team back into the game at 32-29 after three quarters.

But the Crusaders then went on another scoring drought lasting more than six minutes that allowed the Dragons to pull away for the victory.

“We are still trying to find ourselves,” Crusaders coach Talara Frost said. “They just have to realize that they can score.”

Higashi led St. George’s with 14 points and Natalie Farias added 10. But Higashi’s defense also kept it tough for Bozlee, who led all scorers with 15 points. Kiourkas had 11 for Northwest Christian.

“We obviously kept (Bozlee) contained as best we could. But it wasn’t just me,” Higashi said. “It’s incredible. We held them scoreless for a long time. That feels awesome.”

While Higashi played Bozlee straight up, it took the entire team to defend her.

“Bozlee is a great player. We came out with a great respect for her,” Rikard said. “Nothing is more fun as a coach than to watch your team take pride in defense. I was really proud of their effort.”