Senior staff writer
What began as a Cinderella-type story Saturday didn’t quite turn out that way for Lutheran’s girls basketball team in the Southwestern Regional.
This time, the slipper belonged to 5-9 junior guard Erin Pasch, who arrived with the Saints at Southwestern before realizing she had left her basketball shoes at home. She made a quick call to her dad, Lutheran assistant principal and football coach Dave Pasch, who was driving on I-65 but had missed the exit to State Road 44.
After hanging up he continued south toward an outlet mall near Edinburgh, bought a pair of size 9 1/2 basketball shoes and headed to Southwestern.
Pasch wore the shoes against No. 7 Tindley. The Saints knew they needed a little magic on the court to battle the Tigers (19-6), who averaged 81.9 points per game and bolstered by nine wins with 100 points or more.
The underdog Saints (13-11) walked onto the court averaging a meager 45.6 points per game but having won seven of their last eight games.
This potential Cinderella story faded quickly as the Tigers led 24-7 at the end of the first quarter and went to defeat Lutheran 67-55.
“We kind of panicked on offense, didn’t hit the 3s that we wanted,” Lutheran coach Joe Morgan said. “The first quarter put us behind but we never quit battling – we scrapped all the way.”
Lutheran, which never led and trailed 32-22 at the half, fought evenly on the boards and deployed an occasional full-court press during the last three quarters.
“We knew they would put up a lot of 3-point shots and thought if we blocked out and cut down our mistakes that we could give ourselves a chance,” Morgan said.
The Saints’ cause was hampered when their top defender, Darianne Snyder, and the scrappy Pasch fouled out in the second half.
The Saints closed to 57-46 with less than three minutes left but got no closer.
Lutheran hit 20-of-47 (42.5 percent) shots for the game; Tindley hit 24-of-68, including 6-of-30 3-point shots.
The Saints’ 24 turnovers and hitting only 14-of-26 free throws became their undoing.
Sophomore Rylee Morris led Lutheran with 24 points. Pasch wound up with nine points, and Snyder, who hit the Saints’ only 3-pointer, had seven. Junior Stormy Bonds had a team-high seven rebounds.
“She has an upside with her long stride she can stretch it out and get to the basket,” Morgan said of Morris. “She is going to be a standout player.”
With all but one player (senior Kimmie Kuehr) expected back next season, Morgan and the Saints will have high expectations. Four starters, two more sophomores and five freshmen are expected to return.
“We expect to get better; we expect to take the next step,” Morgan said while realizing that sectional finalist Morristown and Tindley also have young teams.
The regional field could look the same next year: champ Tindley (20-6) has no seniors; Bloomfield (11-14) loses one senior, and Jac-Cen-Del (23-5) loses four seniors.