Gael girls open postseason play

Poised for a deep tournament run, the sixth-ranked St. Edmond girls basketball team will host South Hamilton in a Class 2A, Region 6 quarterfinal tonight.

Tip is set for 7 p.m. at the SEHS gym.

Entering the postseason, the three-time defending North Central Conference champion Gaels (19-2 overall) have won nine of their last 10 games, including a 61-23 drubbing of Iowa Falls-Alden back on Feb. 7. Junior Anna Yung (19.0), senior Alli Huss (18.5) and junior Jaci Stumpf (11.1) form a reliable 1-2-3 offensive punch for St. Edmond. Junior Madeline Baldwin (4.3) and senior Maddie McCarville (2.5) round out the SEHS starting five.

Stumpf also leads the state in total assists (181), while Yung and Huss each rank 11th among all 2A players in total points (400) and total rebounds (224), respectively.

“We pretty much have the girls focused on one game at a time,” said Gael head coach Scott Messerly, who owns a career mark of 147-50 in nine years at the helm. “We saw (the Hawks) before Christmas, but I’m sure they’ve made some improvement since then. It’s a team you have to respect. They got us at home a few years ago (South Hamilton earned a 73-69 upset over then-No. 7 St. Edmond in a 2A regional opener back in 2012), so we need to jump on them early and can’t let them hang around.”

St. Edmond, which allows just 40.2 points a night, has prevailed by double digits 18 times this winter. The Gaels own a 49-6 home record since the start of the 2009-10 campaign, including 9-1 this season.

In their 2A regional opener on Saturday, the Hawks (2-20) snapped a 16-game losing streak with a 50-27 rout of Madrid. Junior Savana Stangeland (11.0) and senior Kaitlin Fisher (5.7) are the top scoring threats for South Hamilton, which averages only 34.2 points per game. On eight occasions this season, the Hawks have been held to 28 points or less.

South Hamilton’s other victory this winter was a tight 37-35 decision against Colfax-Mingo on Dec. 13.

“It’s always nice to be able to play at home,” Messerly said. “We’ve had some practice time since our last game, and I feel our conditioning is real good right now. Hopefully, we can come out and play well (this evening).”

Tonight’s winner advances to face either West Marshall (8-13) or CMB-Baxter (7-16) in a 2A, Region 6 semifinal here Friday at 7 p.m.