St. Paul has been a notorious slow starter so far this year, but on the flipside, its ability to turn things around by game’s end has engendered a strong sense of patience and resiliency.

The Lady Bucks were on script in that regard for both of their games this week and, sure enough, eventually settled in to pick up 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 Dec. 17 in Newberg.

Sara Pierson scored 19 points to pace the Bucks in that one, which saw Remy Brentano put up 11 points and Carolina Ruvalcaba seven.

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 lay-ins.

From that point forward, however, head coach Mike Murphy’s team recommitted on defense, holding Perrydale to just 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 just 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, then will have a rematch versus Condon-Wheeler (a 38-29 winner over the Bucks on Dec. 14) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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