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Ingle’s senior season helps set new standards for Liberty girls basketball

To say Avery Ingle has paved the way for success for Liberty girls basketball would be a major understatement.

Her four-year run has seen the Eagles’ girls team go from new program to anything but an easy opponent on the court.

“I love that we were able to set records and tradition because there was no one before us and we could do anything basically,” Ingle said.

In her recently completed senior season, Ingle averaged 16.5 points a game as the Eagles’ go-to scoring option and managed to eclipse the 1,084-point career mark in just over two seasons.

“She scored her 1,000th point and she really only did it in about two and half years,” Liberty coach Joe Walterbach said. “Her freshman year, they didn’t have a varsity team and her sophomore year they only played about eight games and her junior was just her first full season of varsity ball.”

“They stopped the game against Fort Zumwalt South, announced it and gave me the game ball,” Ingle said. “It was pretty awesome.”

Ingle knocked down the game-winning shot to help Liberty win its tournament in December and pulled off a big steal to seal a late season victory over Fort Zumwalt East.

Joined by guard Jordan Baumann, forwards Savannah Kruse and Kylie Seaton, Ingle and her teammates have gone from one win to 11 in the group’s varsity time, from when the program started. In the 2013-14 season, the program was sub-varsity level only.

“This season was way better than our sophomore and junior years,” Ingle said. “It was very difficult having three coaches in three years but when [Coach] Walterbach came in my junior year, I blossomed as a player and I really enjoyed it.”

Ingle, who plans to play college basketball, likely on the Division 3 level, has set program records in 3-pointers, steals and blocked shots. She, along with her fellow seniors, have laid a foundation for a successful environment for the Eagles to thrive.

“I think we’ve definitely paved the way and we’ve set the standards and we’ve set the tradition and we’re showing the younger girls how to be a player and how to be a leader,” Ingle said.

A district win did not materialize for Ingle and her teammates in the postseason as the Eagles were stopped by Hannibal on Feb. 28 but that will hardly dim the impact that Ingle and her senior teammates has made have made on the future of Liberty girls basketball.

“We had four seniors this year and all four seniors did something for us and they’ve really been through a lot, so these girls have done so much for the program,” Walterbach said.

Fort Zumwalt West wins District 2 title; Francis Howell falls in District 5 Final

The first weekend of March turned out to be a great and historic one for the Fort Zumwalt West Jaguars basketball team.

The Jaguars advanced into the Class 5 sectionals, thanks to a 61-55 win over Gateway Athletic Conference South rival Timberland for the Class 5, District 2 championship at Timberland. The district championship was the first in school history for the Jaguars and gave Zumwalt West its first ever sectional appearance against Jackson.

Zumwalt West got a huge night from Jake Hampton, who erupted for 21 points while Michael Cessna added 15 points and Josh White chipped in 9.

The second-seeded Jaguars shot 48 percent from the floor and hit 13 of 15 free-throws on the night.

Grady Daniels led Timberland with 18 points.

Timberland finished the season at 16-10.

Zumwalt West [18-9] beat Fort Zumwalt South in the district semifinals on Mar. 1 to advance to the championship game. Marquis Majors and Spencer Strode paced the Jaguars with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Darius Thomas led Zumwalt South with a game-high 26 points.

Zumwalt South saw its season end at 13-13.

Francis Howell had the top seed in the Class 5, District 5 tournament but that mattered little after the Vikings had their district title hopes dashed by two seed Lafayette in the district championship game on Mar. 3.

Howell was upended 58-55 by Lafayette in a game that went back and forth in the second half. Lafayette led 33-20 at the half but the Vikings exploded for 19 third-quarter points to lead for a 39-39 tie with one quarter to play.

Senior forward Mike Brohm led Howell with 23 points and sophomore point guard Daylan Dalton had 13 points.

Three days earlier, the Vikings edged out Marquette 45-44 in a district semifinal to move into the championship round.

Brohm came up big with 10 points and eight rebounds and Dalton also had 10 points. The Vikings knocked down 11 of 13 free-throws and hit six three-pointers.

Francis Howell finished its 2016-17 campaign at 22-6.

Wickenheiser Cup semifinals loss to Ladue fails to dampen outstanding playoff run for Fort Zumwalt South

It was not quite the ending that the Fort Zumwalt South Hockey Bulldogs would have preferred but the postseason success was something that could keep the club strong for years to come.

Zumwalt South [12-12-1] ended up just one win short of the short of the Wickenheiser Cup Championship game as top-seeded Ladue eliminated the Bulldogs with a 9-3 game two semifinal round loss on Feb. 25.

“A playoff run like this does wonders for the club because it puts hockey back on the map at the school,” Fort Zumwalt South coach Jeff Wear said. “We have fought internally for years to get more recognition of the club internally and this run does wonders as far as school support goes.”

The Bulldogs opened the preliminary round robin portion of the Wickenheiser playoff bracket with a 9-7 loss to Ladue then posted wins over Eureka and Lafayette to move into the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinal round, the Bulldogs advanced thanks to back-to-back wins over Lindbergh in the two-game quarterfinal series. That led to a matchup against top-seeded and loaded Ladue.

“Lindbergh was a very talented team in the best division in St. Louis and we played some of our best hockey in that series,” Wear said.

Against Ladue in the first game of the semifinals, the Bulldogs fell behind 5-1 before rallying to force a 5-5 tie.

In game two, Ladue came out hot early and ended the playoff push with a six-goal series-clinching win.

“The Ladue series was frustrating because we played them well two other times and always seemed to have one bad period of hockey,” Wear said. “This time was no different.”

Junior Joey Spotanski and sophomores Owen Risse, Sam Watson and Joey Solimando lead the Bulldogs multi-lined offense. The defense was anchored by sophomore Randall Greene and senior Ethan Fitzgerald.

Wear believed that the Bulldogs got maximum dividends out of this season as the young Zumwalt South squad hit its stride just after Christmas break.

“We were playing some sporadic hockey and it felt like the Christmas break rejuvenated the players and their play on the ice showed,” Wear said.

Thanks to the breakthrough season this winter, the future looks promising for the Bulldogs on the ice.

“On the ice, this great playoff run has the potential to be huge,” Wear said. “There were several teaching moments that the staff and players can use going forward to make another great run.”

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