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Cardinals advance in district tournament

Feb. 26—Last year's girls Class 4 runner-up, the Benton Cardinals, will get at least one more game this season after defeating Cameron 59-44 on Monday in the district tournament.

The first and only time the Cardinals and Dragons met this season saw Benton wallop Cameron on its home floor by 51 points. On Monday, the difference wouldn't be nearly as lopsided and the Dragons would put the Cardinals on their toes early.

Freshman Isabel Robinson helped the Dragons take a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter by burying a rainbow three-pointer as time expired in the quarter.

The Cardinals would take the punch in the mouth and use it as fuel from the second quarter on. A healthy balance of scoring between several players in the second quarter would help Benton outscore Cameron 16-9 in the second quarter to give itself a 27-21 lead at the halftime break. Junior Andrea Simmons would mimic Robinson by scoring just before the halftime horn.

The defensive intensity would turn up a notch in the second half for Benton as they forced multiple turnovers that led to scoring opportunities on the offensive end. With its corner traps on ball handlers, Cameron didn't have much of an answer in order to break through. Before they knew it, the Dragons would see themselves down 45-29 heading into the final period. The Cardinals had six team fouls in the third quarter compared to the Dragons' zero team fouls, but Cameron was not able to capitalize on the foul differential.

Benton would eventually balloon its lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game. Cameron would cut the lead down to 13 points with 1:19 left in the contest, but the Cardinals would not let it slip.

The three-seeded Cardinals earned themselves a date with the two-seeded and cross-town rival Lafayette Fighting Irish in the semifinals. The teams from the Southside and Northside of St. Joseph will face off on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Jacob Meikel can be reached at jacob.meikel@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @NPNowMeikel.