CLASS 3 GIRLS STATE SECTIONAL
#7 Licking (24-4) v. #3 St. James (26-2)
March 4 / 7:45 PM
Site: Missouri S&T University
The Licking Lady ‘Cats captured their third-straight district championship with a 59-43 win over Houston Monday night. The Lady Wildcats’ prize? Another date with perennial Class 3 powerhouse St. James, who rolled over Licking 62-30 on Jan. 5.
“St. James is definitely a top-5 team in the state—regardless of class,” said Licking head coach Steve Rissler. “They have great team speed on defense and execute very well offensively. They have five players capable of getting 20 points on any given night, so it’s difficult to key on just one.”
The Lady ‘Cats are playing their best basketball of the season, though, and have not lost a game since a setback to Logan-Rogersville on Jan. 10. Licking’s other two losses were to a pair of Class 2 district title teams in Gainesville and Plato.
“We played St. James in early January and lost 62-30,” said Rissler. “I know their personnel and tendencies well. We will need to control the tempo and not let them get easy transition buckets off turnovers.”
The Lady Tiger lineup is deep, athletic, and talented. Rissler was not wrong in stating that any of St. James’ five starters are capable of dropping 20 on any given night. St. James is led by a pair of four-year starting guards in All-State shooting guard Ashlee Marlatt and point guard Alexis Uffmann. Sophomore forward Devin Fuhring is the team’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, while junior Shauna Rinehart is a lethal shot-maker fro all over the court. Sophomore power forward Kenzie Guese is a budding star, and headed toward future All-State accolades.
Licking’s lineup has its own problems to deal with for opponents, though. Senior Bailie Osborne leads the Lady ‘Cats in scoring at 16 points per game, and also averages nine boards, 2.5 blocks, and 3.5 steals per outing. Senior All-Stater Megan Smith is a stat sheet stuffer, and scores at a 15.7 points per game clip, while grabbing 6.8 rebounds, dishing out 3.3 assists, and recording 3.1 steals per game. Senior Hali Littrell averages 5.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, but is capable of having a big night.
The Licking-St. James winner gets the Buffalo-Stockton winner at 6:45 p.m. Saturday night at Drury University. The winner of that contest will book its ticket to Columbia for the Show Me Showdown.