By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published January 22, 2009
Dressed in their home white uniforms, the St. Pius X High School varsity girls team took the court Jan. 13 against Marist School in its road blue uniforms. Two minutes and 21 seconds elapsed before Marist senior shooting guard Dana Middleton scored the game’s first basket. St. Pius senior forward Morgan Taylor-Burns tied the game up, but Middleton scored again to give Marist a lead it would maintain up to halftime, 31-23. St. Pius tried to climb back in it, but Marist would not let them close the margin by any more than eight points. Marist scored 32 second-half points to defeat St. Pius by a final score of 63-47.
Marist seniors contributed in various ways to the victory. Middleton finished with 28 points and three steals. Point guard Kristen Meier also had three steals, center Whitney Hagan had 10 rebounds and shooting guard Tesia Davis had five assists and five rebounds.
“The key to our success this season has been the leadership from our four senior captains. They have played together since seventh grade and know each other like the back of their hand,” said Kim Hixon, Marist head coach.
St. Pius junior forward Jessika Crews finished with 15 points and senior guard Nikki Reed added 12 of her own. Both teams were plagued by turnovers, Marist with 13 and St. Pius with 23.
The same anticipation and fever pitch inside the gymnasium welcomed the boys as they met.
Marist senior shooting guard John Mann and St. Pius junior forward Ike Onyeka, who both wear number 24, scored first for their respective teams. It was a defensive battle for the most part and Marist held a slim 7-6 lead at the end of the first period. St. Pius took its first and only lead of the game on a driving score to the basket by senior guard Zach Elastad to start the second period. Marist regained the lead for good with just over five minutes to play in the period and they took a four-point lead into halftime.
With a crossover dribble going to his left, Marist senior guard LaDarius Goens scored on a drive to the basket to start off the third period, but St. Pius senior guard Andy Leipold answered with a 3-point jumper to bring his team within three. He continued to keep St. Pius close (21-17) as he hit another one with 4:15 left in the third. But after that the Marist defense created all sorts of scoring problems for St. Pius, who went scoreless for more than two minutes. Marist extended its lead to 13 points (33-20) when the period ended. The fourth period proved no better for St. Pius as Marist clamped further down with its defense, which created a number of turnovers. Marist prevailed by a final score of 60-29.
Third-year Marist head coach Gregory McClaire said, “Both teams play hard when they compete. I have all the respect for Coach (Joe) Eineker and his team. What it comes down to is execution. The team that executes the best usually prevails.”
Goens and Mann finished with 12 and 14 points, respectively. Marist junior center James Ellis grabbed nine rebounds. Onyeka finished with seven points for St. Pius.
Commenting after the game on Marist’s halftime adjustments Goens said, “Coach told us to relax and stay in our offense. He also used an aggressive zone defense to help us get a lot of transition baskets.”
St. Pius boys (2-11) and girls (5-4) host Carver Atlanta High School, Friday, Jan. 23, and they face The Westminster School on the road Jan. 24. Marist boys (13-1) and girls (14-2) travel to Chamblee High School, Friday, Jan. 23.