Howery's 15 free throws help No. 2 St. Mary's girls basketball overcome No. 3 Lamar

St. Mary's Lamar girls basketball

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

COLORADO SPRINGS — Freshman Josephine Howery scored the bulk of her team-high 19 points from the spot where Lamar's entire team struggled on the night: the free throw line.

Howery sank 15 from the charity stripe as the CHSAANow.com Class 3A No. 2-ranked Pirates beat the No. 3 Savages 60-47 on Friday night.

She spent the majority of the game attacking the basket, and while she only scored two field goals on the night, she was happy to up her scoring total one point at a time.

"I felt like I had to get my points going to the basket," Howery said. "I knew if I kept driving to the basket, good things would happen."

Apparently, even if it meant the ball not going in on her shots.

The field goals came from her teammates, and they came in bunches. The Pirates (6-0 overall, 1-0 Tri-Peaks) made 17 baskets against a defensively strong Lamar team, including six 3-pointers. Sophomore Mary Cummings accounted for half of those baskets from behind the arc.

The Savages (6-1, 1-1) came into the game surrendering only 29.5 points per game. But ball movement and good shooting gave St. Mary's a 38-21 lead at halftime.

"They did something strategic, they put (Cali Clark) out in front and it took down the ball movement that we're used to," Pirates coach Mike Burkett said. "We've been working at this and working at this."

It's not hard to pick Clark out on the floor as she towers over most players. Lamar coach Erik Melgoza played her on the front line of his zone defense in the first half, hoping to disrupt the efficient St. Mary's ball movement.

The Pirates were still able to score and if anyone's offense was disrupted during the game, it was Lamar's.

The Savages struggled to shoot ball in the first half and were only able to net seven points through the second quarter.

Even when they attacked the basket and successfully got to the free throw line, the results rarely turned out well.

Lamar finished the night 7-25 from the free throw line. Missing 18 fouls shots in a 13-point loss is something that can certainly haunt a coach during a three-hour bus ride home.

"There's nothing free about a free throw, I guess," Melgoza said.

At the end of the night, even if suffering a loss is never ideal, there are things that can be learned from Friday's result.

Melgoza had noticed things that his players needed to improve on, but the results were turning out favorably so there was never a real need to focus on them. Friday's loss could be the spark the Savages need to make some adjustments and show that they are still at top team not just in the Tri-Peaks League, but in all of 3A.

"I've been saying some things (to the girls) that we haven't been doing well," he said. "I don't know if there's ever a good loss. Nobody likes to lose, but this is a game that can wake them up. This is a team that will bounce back."

The Pirates will now focus on building their momentum. They still have a non-league game against Pueblo East, but still have to run the gauntlet of the Tri-Peaks.

"I'm really proud of our team for this win," Howery said. "I just hope that we can keep going like this for the rest of the season."