St. Louisan Coach Niele Ivey, who was named the Coach of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

St. Louisan Coach Niele Ivey, who was named the Coach of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Young ladies from our area made history this week on local and national basketball scenes.

The Saint Louis University women’s team closed a tremendous final month of the season by winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship in Wilmington, Delaware. Playing in their first A-10 championship game, the Billikens defeated top-seed Massachusetts 91-86 to earn their first NCAA Tournament bid. The Billikens were 6-16 at one point during the season but won 11 of their last 12 games. 

Senior forward Julia Martinez was named tournament Most Valuable Player of the tournament, and she registered a triple-double in the championship game with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Senior Kyla McMakin scored a game high 27 points, which gave her a school-record 591 points for the season. St. Louisan Brooke Flowers (Metro High) added 13 points and seven rebounds. Flowers joined McMakin and Martinez on the All-Tournament Team.

Niele Ivey ACC Coach of the Year

Congratulations to St. Louisan Niele Ivey, who was named the Coach of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The former Cor Jesu Academy star led Notre Dame to the ACC regular-season championship. She becomes the first Black woman to earn the ACC Coach of the Year honor. In her third season, Ivey directed the Irish to a 15-3 conference record and 24-4 record during the regular season. She was the starting point guard on Notre Dame's national championship team in 2000, spent 12 seasons as retired coach Muffet McGraw's assistant, and four as Associate Head Coach. 

O'Fallon Wins Class 4A State Championship

The O'Fallon Panthers also made history in girls’ basketball last weekend by winning the IHSA Class 4A state championship, a first-time achievement. O'Fallon defeated Lisle Benet Academy 62-57 in double overtime to complete its championship season with a 34-4 record. Senior guard Shannon Dowell led the Panthers in the championship game with a team-high 25 points while senior guard Jailah Pelly added 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Josie Christopher and D'Myjah Bolds added nine points each.

Metro League Teams off to State

The Metro League will be well-represented at this weekend's MSHSAA Class 1-3 State Basketball Championships in Springfield. Principia is headed to the Final Four of the Class 2 state tournament while Lutheran North will compete in the Class 3 Final Four.

Lutheran North (19-10) will take on Thayer on Friday in the state semifinals at the Great Southern Bank Arena on the campus of Missouri State University. Tipoff is at noon. The winner will face either New Madrid Central or Lafayette County for the state championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Crusaders are led by 6'4" junior guard Bryce Spiller, who is averaging 18.6 points a game while shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. Senior forward Davell Long averages 10.6 points and five rebounds a game while sophomore guard Izy Prude averages 8.1 points.

Principia (24-6) will face undefeated Plattsburg in the Class 2 semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will face the Salisbury-Hartville winner for the state championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Panthers are led by 6'9" senior forward Stephen Okoro, who averages 13.7 points and 13.6 rebounds a game. Freshman point guard Jaylen Edwards averages a team-high 16 points a game while 6'5" freshman Ben Akoro averages seven points, five rebounds and three assists a game.

SEMO headed to Big Dance

Southeast Missouri State is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 23 years after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament last weekend in Evansville, Indiana. The Redhawks defeated Tennessee Tech 89-82 in an overtime thriller. Former Vashon High standout Phillip Russell scored 21 points for SEMO to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Sophomore Dylan Branson (Mehlville) added 10 points and seven rebounds. The Redhawks also have two other St. Louisans on the team in forward Kobe Clark (Vashon) and guard Tevin Gowins (Hazelwood Central).

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