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The Bucks remain undefeated and at the top of the OSAA 1A rankings after win last week

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The Bucks and Pirates battled it out for possession all night in a low-scoring affair with a slower pace

In a rivalry game that proved to be a clash of styles, the St. Paul girls basketball team beat Perrydale 35-25 on Dec. 19 at St. Paul High School. The Buckaroos pulled away from the Pirates thanks to a third quarter run after being forced to play at Perrydale's slower pace.

"It was really a war," SPHS coach Dave Matlock said. "A really good defensive battle by two teams that know each other and have a great rivalry. We all know what the other does, so it's hard to score points.

"We had enough of a flurry in the third quarter to get away from them. They're a really good team with a lot of seniors. We're real happy to get out of there with a win against a team like this."

St. Paul missed a lot of easy shots in the first quarter when it had its opportunities. Those opportunities were far and few between, however, because Perrydale was content to hold the ball for minutes at a time while it ran through its offense at a leisurely pace.

The Pirates attempted one shot in the first quarter and made it. It was 6-2 St. Paul through one quarter of play. Matlock said the Pirates stuck with the Bucks through the first half of the game before it opened up in their favor.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Senior forward Karlee Southerland played her best game of the season against Perrydale, according to SPHS coach Dave Matlock.

"They're a team that's not going to go away because they're well-coached and control the tempo when they have the ball," Matlock said. "It's real hard to run on them because they slow it down and keep the game at their pace."

Perrydale attempted just 30 shots in total on the night. St. Paul, meanwhile, tried to get out on the break when it could and score quickly. The two teams couldn't be more different in terms of offensive approach, but the focus on defense rings true for both squads.

In the scoring department, senior Erin Counts led the way with 13 points for St. Paul to go along with seven rebounds. Senior Isabelle Wyss managed nine points and five rebounds.

Matlock emphasized that it was a balanced, team effort on Thursday and that it took everyone to overcome the insistence of Perrydale to play at a slower pace than St. Paul is comfortable.

"We have two really diverse styles," Matlock said. "Our team is get out and go, trying to get as many good shots as we can as quickly as we can. Perrydale loves to slow it down and get good shots out of the flow of their half-court offense."

The schedule doesn't get any easier for this No. 1 ranked St. Paul team. After beating Perrydale and previously squeaking past 2A powerhouse Kennedy, the 7-0 Bucks will now host a pair of undefeated 1A squads. No. 14 Elkton (7-0) comes into town on Dec. 27 and No. 2 Joseph (5-0) will be in St. Paul on Dec. 28.

Joseph plays four additional road games prior to facing St. Paul, but should provide the biggest test yet for Matlock's squad.

"Joseph is really well-coached, plays stellar defense and likes to press," Matlock said. "They've graduated some kids, but they are going to be tough as nails. Although they're not real deep, they will keep coming at you. We can't let our guard down.

"We have been pushed to the brink against these top teams and have responded well. These girls embrace the challenge of these games and don't shy away from these teams. They want to bring their 'A' game every time out and these games refine us as a team."

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