From the opening tipoff, the bounce favored 13th seeded Fontbonne Academy in its 41-34 upset over the fourth-seeded Oliver Ames girls basketball team in the first round of the Div. 2 South Sectionals Wednesday night at the Nixon Gymnasium.
Fontbonne junior forward Georgia Bourikas sparked her team during a 12-0 first quarter run with two clutch three’s, while classmate Jenna Gemma was a force underneath the glass all night leading her team to victory with a double-double (19 points, 18 rebounds).
“I can’t say enough about Jen,” said Fontbonne coach Claire Murphy. “She’s got the heart of a warrior. There was no way she was going to go home a loser tonight and she wanted this one really bad. She rebounds, she shoots, she does it all.
“Georgia started the game off huge for us,” Murphy said about Bourikas’ effort. “She was nervous before the game but when the game started she stepped up and gave us that early lead.”
While the duo of Bourikas and Gemma proved to be a difficult matchup, the Lady Tigers had some opportunities to claw back and take over the momentum.
After pulling within eight at the end of the first quarter, OA’s defense stepped up the intensity in the second quarter and held Fontbonne scoreless through the next eight minutes forcing eight turnovers in that span. However, the Tigers could only cut the lead to two just before halftime at 14-12.
“When we were up 12-0, I got a little nervous because I thought it was too good to be true early,” said Murphy. “And then we went into halftime scoreless, but the good news was that we only gave them six [points] in that second quarter.
“This group believed we were winning today, there’s no doubt,” Murphy added. “I was happy with the way that we played today.”
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, OA went on a 7-2 run to claim its first lead of the game at 21-16. Fontbonne called timeout to regroup and the results paid dividends as they re-gained the lead for good by going on a 13-2 run to end the third quarter.
That third quarter Fontbonne run was just an example of the Lady Tigers unable to overcome the Indians’ defense according to head coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook.
“I have to give credit to Fontbonne,” she said. “They took away our breakaway, we didn’t get any easy layups which is what we made a living on all season long – in terms of getting points off our defense – and I thought ultimately we took what was considered to be good shots for us and we just didn’t get the ball to bounce our way.”
With the Fontbonne defense holding the duo of Caitlyn Abela (4 points) and Candace Steadman (8 points) to 12 points combined, forward Emily Romans provided the Lady Tigers with her best game of the year tallying 11 points and 8 rebounds.
But even with Romans’ effort, it was just not meant to be for the Lady Tigers.
“Emily left it all out on the floor,” Clement-Holbrook said about her senior co-captain. “Her heart is as big as America…”
Fontbonne, now 14-7 on the year, will travel to face No. 5 O’Bryant in the Div. 2 South quarterfinals Friday night at 7 p.m.
OA, which captured its second straight Davenport Division title, finishes the 2011-12 season at 18-3.