The Cor Jesu gym was packed on Thursday night to watch the Chargers battle against the Nerinx Hall Markers. The intense back-and-forth play kept the crowd on the edge of their seats for the entirety of the game.
Marker 3-pointers were answered by Charger 3-pointers, the teams traded the lead numerous times and big defensive rebounds switched the momentum of the game at key points.
Ultimately, Cor Jesu came out ahead, with the help of fellow students lining the court, cheering on their Chargers to a 52-49 win over Nerinx.
John Neff, Cor Jesu head coach, said he knew that the second half was going to be very exciting.
“Nerinx is a very good team," he said. "They’ve got a .500 record, but they’ve played a lot of good ball games. They’ve beat some people that have beat us, and they’re always tough. They’re a young team, but they’re pretty good.”
After losing to Nerinx 52-30 earlier this season in a tournament game, Cor Jesu came out firing. The Chargers, who are now 20-6 for the season and 3-2 in their conference, earned a quick lead over Nerinx (now 12-13, 1-4).
The Markers found it hard to close the gap at first -- a slow first quarter gave way to a second quarter, which at one point, the Chargers were up 14-6. Two 3-pointers from Charger Chaley Poth, a sophomore guard, added to the Chargers score. It was 20-11 Cor Jesu after Poth’s second 3.
Kenzie Yess, Nerinx’s freshman forward, answered with a 3-pointer. Teammate and senior guard Emily Welin followed that 3 with another 3-pointer. Welin then kept the momentum with a steal followed by a layup attempt that drew a foul. She made her free throw, tying the game at 20.
With 20 seconds left in the first half, Nerinx then pulled ahead with a jump shot. As the teams went to the locker room, it was 22-20 Nerinx, the Markers enjoying their first lead of the game.
The Markers opened up the third quarter with two free throws from sophomore guard Jo Ingram and a basket from senior center Allie Eime. Cor Jesu’s senior guard Olivia Simon answered with a steal and a layup, followed by an offensive rebound and basket from senior forward Meg Riley. Riley was fouled during her shot and then made her free throw, turning it into a 3-point play.
Riley averages 10 points per game.
Two consecutive Nerinx layups, one from Welin and the other from sophomore guard Abbie Marshall, gave the Markers the lead again. Cor Jesu wasn’t giving up, however. Another 3-pointer from Chaley Poth and a basket from sophomore Charger Laura Milles tied the game at 32.
Poth regained the lead for the Chargers with a layup through traffic, and then later that quarter made two free throws. She would have seven points in the third quarter alone, helping the Chargers hold a 36-34 lead over Nerinx at the end of the third.
Poth also had four 3-pointers this game.
“We’ve worked a lot more on shooting as the season has gone on,” Neff said after the game. “We’ve also worked on shooting 3s, which I thought we did pretty well tonight against a pretty good defense.”
According to Neff, the Chargers worked to get the ball inside.
"When it came in, we were able to get it back out and get some people open for 3s," she said.
Poth was one of them, and she definitely delivered.
Nerinx wasn’t ready to quit, and the fourth quarter proved to be a great quarter for both teams. But, it was the basics that really counted. Ten of the Markers’ 15 fourth-quarter points were free throws.
Six of those free throws belonged to freshman Yess, who is averaging 72 percent from the line this season.
Yess also would have a basket that quarter, but it wouldn’t be enough to beat the Chargers—they also made their free throws. This is something the Chargers were prepared for.
“We shoot a lot of free throws, because at the end of the game, we think that matters," Neff said after the game. "It paid off tonight.”
Along with the free throws, a 3-pointer from Poth and another from teammate Monica Simon, a junior guard, secured the win for the Chargers, 52-49.
Overall, both teams played very well.
“It was a fun game,” Neff said.
Nerinx will see Ladue at Webster at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Cor Jesu will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, in the Lindbergh tournament.