She planted her feet and waited for the whistle.
Jill Howard stood as still as she could — an immovable defensive force — as she took a charge with just minutes left on the clock, wrapping up Fontbonne Hall’s 43–34 victory over Monsignor McClancy on Jan. 12.
Howard’s play stalled a late McClancy rally as the Bonnies scored the final four points of the Catholic High School Athletic Association tilt.
“When someone’s coming, we always say, ‘You’ve just got to stand and take the charge,’ ” said Howard, who finished with 10 points. “Draw the foul, step in, and take it so they don’t score.”
McClancy and Fontbonne both struggled on offense early, missing shots and turning the ball over as the squads tried to find a rhythm. The two teams combined for just 18 points in the first quarter, and the Lady Crusaders’ half-court trap defense gave Fontbonne’s offense trouble throughout the first half.
“Their zone, trapping-style defense caused us to rush a couple of shots,” said Bonnies coach Steve Oliver. “We also had some good looks that just weren’t going in. We didn’t finish around the rim, but it was their game plan that did it.”
Fontbonne (7–0) made a handful of halftime changes, looking to work the ball into the lane — and through McClancy’s trap. The Bonnies’ players hit their stride early in the third quarter, opening up the second half on a 10–1 run and jumping out to an eight-point lead as the squad passed its way through the Lady Crusaders’ zone.
“That passing was the key to breaking through the trap,” said junior point guard Katie Marquardt, who finished with seven points. “We started to be able to find each other on the court and connected with each other.”
The Bonnies’ offense did just enough in the third quarter, padding its lead as the defense shut down McClancy. The Lady Crusaders were held scoreless from field for most of the third quarter, notching the team’s only field goal with 34 seconds left on the clock.
“The key was to move your feet on defense and keep them moving fast,” Howard said. “We knew where all their shooters were and got out to them as best we could.”
McClancy did its best to connect on shots down the stretch, making it a five-point game twice during the fourth quarter, but Fontbonne answered each momentum shift with a play. Howard’s charge, with just under three minutes left on the clock, shut down the Lady Crusaders’ final push.
It wasn’t the prettiest win of the season, but the Bonnies will take it — they’re just happy to have found a way to grind out another victory.
“We’ve got to continue working hard, and we can’t worry about not always making shots,” said Oliver. “They fought through not shooting well to get a ‘W’ — that’s what I’m proud of.”