For a team she’s only seen twice before in her career, St. Michael the Archangel guard Tyler Morrison developed a bad taste in her mouth when it came to St. Thomas More.
Two straight losses does that to most competitors, and following a first half that left the Lady Warriors with a five-point halftime lead, Morrison went to work.
Morrison scored 11 of her game-high 17 points during a five-minute stretch of the third quarter, including three consecutive 3-pointers, to help St. Michael to a convincing 46-27 victory Wednesday over STM.
“I wanted that win,” said Morrison, who had six rebounds, five blocks and three assists. “I didn’t want to lose to them again. It’s kind of a rivalry to us. We’ve got a lot of confidence. We felt like it was a playoff game, like it was a one-and-done kind of game.”
The two highly successful Class 4A programs have met on an annual basis, filling the byes in their respective schedules, to provide the other with playoff-caliber competition before postseason play.
St. Michael (20-9) travels to District 7-4A leader Ellender next Wednesday to compete its regular season.
“These are good, key tests to see where we’re at going into the playoffs,” St. Michael coach Tami McClure said. “We’re not peaking, but we’re going in the right direction.”
St. Thomas More, the second-place team in District 5-4A, represented the state’s No. 4 team in the power ratings but faltered against No. 7 St. Michael.
The Lady Warriors scored the game’s first nine points, courtesy of a pair of 3-pointers from Alex Wicker, and led 11-7 after the first quarter. They held a 19-14 edge at halftime despite 11 turnovers and 29 percent shooting.
Better ball movement around the perimeter of STM’s zone defense got Morrison better looks at the goal, starting with just under a minute gone in the third quarter. The junior guard drained three straight 3s and fed Jordan Schexnayder for a lay-in to cap an 11-0 run that made it 32-16.
Morrison took advantage of her length for one of her four steals that she converted into a layup and a 3-pointer from Essa Badon gave the Lady Warriors a 37-18 lead going into the final quarter.
“The second half was much better,” Morrison said. “We came out a little sluggish and had too many turnovers. Coach told us to settle down and work the ball and everything started opening up for me. We also picked it up on defense.”
St. Michael held STM (19-5) to 24 percent shooting overall, including 1 of 11 in the third quarter, forced 19 turnovers and limited the Lady Cougars to a season-low point total.
Carly Sloane and Megan Abrams scored 10 apiece for STM.
St. Michael took its biggest lead of the game (46-23) with 3:37 remaining on guard Sabree Wilson’s steal and lay-up in the front court.
“I was pleased,” McClure said. “This was probably the best game they’ve played all year long.”