Class 1A girls basketball — The Buckaroos erase a 13-point first quarter deficit against the Pirates to take the inside track to the Casco League title

St. Paul has been a notorious slow starter so far this year, but on the flipside, its ability to turn things around by game time has engendered a strong sense of patience and SETH GORDON - Closing in -- Remy Brentano (left) and Carolina Ruvalcaba converge on C.S. Lewis guard Katelyn Reimer during St. Paul's 51-13 victory Dec. 17. Brentano scored 11 points for the Buckaroos.

The Bucks were on script in that regard for both of their games last week and, sure enough, eventually settled in to pull out a pair of Casco League victories over C.S. Lewis Academy and Perrydale. St. Paul struggled offensively against the Watchmen, scoring just 20 points by halftime, but never wavered defensively in a 51-13 victory over the Watchmen Dec. 17 in Newberg.

Sara Pierson scored 19 points to pace the Bucks in that game, which saw Remy Brentano put up 11 points and Carolina Ruvalcaba seven. Lana Friedrich led the Watchmen with six points.

The Bucks did not seem to have their heads about them in the first quarter against the rival Pirates, who raced to an 18-5 lead after one quarter thanks to beating the St. Paul defense for a lot of easy layins.

From that point forward, however, head coach Mike Murphy’s team recommitted on defense, holdng Perrydale to 24 points the rest of the way.

“Once we started to play defense a little better, everything kind of came together,” Murphy said.

St. Paul (4-3 overall, 2-0 Casco League) cut the lead to seven points by halftime, then limited the Pirates to six points in the third quarter, taking its first lead of the game, 34-32, on the final basket of the period.

The Bucks went on to have their best offensive quarter of the game in the fourth, putting up 18 points, to cement the 52-42 win.

“When we were down early, they were still pretty focused and you didn’t see a bunch of heads drooping and dropping,” Murphy said. “They just stayed with what they’re good at and fortunately we were able to get back in the game and turn the momentum our way. It was a nice win.”

Senior post Sara Pierson had 20 points, with fellow post Cassidy Merten turning a strong performance with 14. The Bucks also won the rebounding battle 36-17.

Things won’t get any easier for St. Paul, which will host 2A Kennedy in its own holiday tournament at 4 p.m. Friday.

The Bucks will then have a rematch versus Condon-Wheeler (a 38-29 winner over the Bucks Dec. 14) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

C.S. Lewis responded nicely to the setback against St. Paul by downing Willamette Valley Christian 44-22 Friday. The Watchmen will participate in the Trinity Lutheran Cougar Classic Friday and Saturday.

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