If this is Chantel Osahor hobbled, pity be to those who face her at full strength.
The St. Mary’s senior girls basketball forward has missed games periodically for the past month because of a knee bruise but didn’t show any ill effects Monday night.
The reigning Tribune Player of the Year had 12 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and two blocks to lead the Knights to a 63-43 win over Pinnacle in the MLK Basketball Classic at Wells Fargo Arena in a matchup of the state’s two best teams.
The Washington-bound senior has a vast array of skills and had them all on display, helping St. Mary’s shut down the Pioneers’ upset bid. Osahor hit a pair of 3-pointers, found open teammates consistently and even blocked a shot by Oregon State-bound Sydney Wiese after a screen switched her onto the lightning quick guard in the fourth quarter.
“She’s a great weapon for us,” St. Mary’s coach Curtis Ekmark said.
St. Mary’s dominated Arizona opponents on its way to last year’s Division I championship and remains undefeated against in-state competition this year, but Pinnacle showed enough in this one to give the rest of the state a sliver of hope.
Madie Rinehart scored with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter to cut a nine-point halftime deficit to four, and it was 33-28 a half-minute later. However, the Knights (18-1) used a 13-4 run to end the quarter and push the lead back up to 14.
Ekmark said he was worried about his team’s conditioning at halftime and even moreso after Pinnacle’s early third-quarter run, but was happy to see the players respond to the challenge.
“They’re such a battle-tested group, and they know when it’s time to play,” Ekmark said.
Pinnacle (21-2) used an 11-0 fourth quarter run to briefly drop the deficit to single digits at 52-43 with 3:46 remaining, but wouldn’t score again the rest of the way.
The Pioneers were plagued by 27 turnovers — 17 in the first half — as the St. Mary’s full court press wreaked havoc consistently.
“If you try to dribble to the sidelines, that’s where St. Mary’s is going to get you,” Pinnacle coach Troy Wiese said.
Despite the miscues, the Pioneers had enough stretches of success for optimism.
“I think we can stay right with them,” Wiese said. “We didn’t tonight.”
Courtney Ekmark started slowly but finished the game with a team-high 17 points. Chloe Johnson added 15 points while Dominique Williams had 12 points and six steals.
Sydney Wiese scored 14 to lead Pinnacle.
It wasn’t a dominant wire-to-wire victory for St. Mary’s, but the Knights still showed it’s going to take a Herculean effort from an opponent to knock them off the rest of the way.
“This team knows how to win, is what it boils down to,” Ekmark said. “Even when it’s not pretty.”