Another amazing season of Lions Basketball comes to an end

The Lions came into their matchup against the Emerald Ridge Jaguars on March 3 with a need for vengeance. Not only did the Lions lose twice earlier in the season to them, but the Lions just came off of a heartbreaking overtime loss against Eastlake. The Jaguars won the previous two games by dominating the paint and out-rebounding the Lions by a staggering rate. If the Lions were to come out on top they would need to find a way to limit the offensive boards for the Jaguars and break the full-court press Emerald Ridge would run.

As the starting lineups were announced, the Lions continued to protest the call made the previous game by not lining up for the announcements of the starting lineup and instead standing all together at the place where the half-court shot was taken. The student section did their part as well, sitting down during the announcement and holding up the viral picture of the ball not yet being released with the clock showing all zeroes. It was a rare moment that displayed school unity, with the largest crowd all season standing in support of their team. 

Kiara Stone (’24) takes a jump shot (photo by Drew Albaugh)

The first quarter went about as poorly as you could imagine for the Lions, who allowed countless offensive rebounds and struggled to score offensively. In fact, the Lions did not even score till halfway through the first quarter, going down into an 11-0 deficit. Keiara Curtis got the scoring going with a pair of floaters, a couple of free throws, and a deep three bringing her first-quarter total to 9 with just one other Lion, senior Taylor Teeple scoring off of a couple of free throws. The Lions played an excellent last minute of the quarter, salvaging an abysmal start, and only trailed by a score of 20-15 moving into the second quarter.

Bellarmine got hot in the second quarter getting out to an early 6-0 run off of a huge step-back three by Kiara Stone and an and-1 bucket by senior Taylor Teeple. When the Bellarmine took the lead at 21-20 for the first time in the game, it looked like they were still heating up. Little did they know that would be the only time they led in the game. ER answered with a 3 but Bellarmine didn’t go away easily. The Lions continued to trade buckets with Emerald Ridge and even gave them a taste of their own medicine by having a couple of put-back layups. However, when the second quarter ended the Lions trailed by 4. Emerald Ridge 38 Bellarmine 34.

In the third, the Lions once again came out and tied up the score by getting out in transition and driving to the bucket. At this point in the game, the Lions were in some foul trouble as both of their starting bigs, Stella Wiggins and Taylor Teeple had four fouls with still another 13 minutes of play left. 

Taylor Teeple (’23) and Jada Travis (’24) defend Emerald Ridge (Drew Albaugh)

With just under a minute left and the shot expiring in the third quarter Junior Jada Travis got on the board with a deep three from a good 7 feet back of the line. The Jaguars responded with a three of their own, however, and a free throw later the Lions remained down four going into the fourth.

Bellarmine battled at the start of the quarter getting defensive stops and hitting clutch shots but momentum was killed when Teeple was called for her fifth foul. With the fourth quarter still remaining, Teeple was forced to watch from the bench. It was an emotional moment for the team’s only healthy senior. She has started on varsity all four years of her high school career, gave it her all for the Lions on countless occasions, and has been a team leader this season. As she left the court for the last time in her Bellarmine career, you could feel the sadness in the air. 

Unfortunately, trouble got worse for the Lions as Stella Wiggins also fouled out a few minutes later. Keira Leingang and Saphia Lazrak were now forced to carry the load in the final minutes of the game. 

It was a nail-biter with a minute and a half and Jada Travis once again came up clutch hitting a deep three from the top of the key to cut the lead to just 3. However, the thing that has been biting the Lions all season long came up once again. With a chance to take the ball and tie the game, the Lions could not come up with a rebound and allowed a dagger of a layup which put the Jaguars up 5. A few missed shots later and the Lions could not erase the deficit losing the final game of the year 69-59.

The Lions played relatively well throughout the game, but fouls, as they often have, were a huge detriment to their success. The Lions committed over 20 team fouls. When they were the ones being fouled, the Lions did extremely well. They shot 19-21 (91%) from the free-throw line, led by Curtis who was a perfect 8-8. Their six three-pointers weren’t too shabby either. Unfortunately, ER made nearly 15 three-pointers, and that’s just difficult to keep up with. At some points in the game, it felt like the Jaguars couldn’t miss. 

Curtis finished the game with 21 points. Travis and Stone each scored 12 (Travis made three of the team’s six 3-point shots), and Teeple contributed 7 points herself. 

Although the Lions’ season does come to an end with the loss the girls should be proud of a great season. They will end up finishing the year as the 8th best team in the state, although we know they should be in the top 4 if the WIAA would’ve had competent refs. Seniors Taylor Teeple and Gabi Miller will be the only two players not returning next season so it should be another very competitive season again next year. Current junior Keira Leingang and sophomore Stella Wiggins will need to find a way to fill the absence of the two leaving seniors, and the Lions will hope for new bigs to fill out the bench. 

The girls played their hearts out this year. Having watched over ten of their games, I can attest that this is the best they’ve been over the past four years, and the numbers reflect that. They had an unforgettable month of January in which they went a perfect 11-0. They pulled off upset wins over Sumner, Eastlake, Davis, and Lincoln, all teams ranked higher than them. They were unfairly eliminated from the bracket on a “buzzer beater” that didn’t even reach the hoop until after the buzzer stopped buzzing. 

These Lions may not have won state, as team captain Gabi Miller predicted they would, but they made the Bellarmine community proud. They won over our hearts with blowout wins, Chick-Fil-A giveaways, and a viral social media campaign that could hopefully change the way the WIAA officiates games in the future. Thank you, Lady Lions.