FRONTENAC • Lutheran North senior forward Kaylynn Hayden had a big day on Saturday — even if she didn't immediately know it.
Hayden scored 14 points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark in her career as Lutheran North beat John Burroughs 39-23 to capture the 39th annual Queen of Hearts Tournament title at Villa Duchesne.
“I thought I was going to get it soon, just not today because I figured I needed more than 30 points,” Hayden said. “I just wanted to get close but we figured out that there wasn't a game (playoff game from last year) against Clark County added in. I just found out, just seconds ago, that I hit the mark today.”
North (14-4, No. 6 in the STLhighschoolsports.comsmall-schools rankings) made history in the third quarter. The Crusaders, who have played in the tournament for more than half of its 39-year history, won the title for the first time, according to North coach Chris Forrest.
“As far as I know this is the first time and it's great,” Forrest said. “I was talking with (Burroughs coach John Merritt) before the game and we both knew it was going to be a real good game. We were prepared but, at the same time, this took a lot out of us.”
After limping out to a 12-10 halftime lead, the Crusaders scored the first 18 points of the second half for a 30-10 lead with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
“I really feel like in the first half that we left a lot of points on the floor,” Forrest said. “We missed a lot of free throws. We missed a lot of layups — we missed a wide open layup. They did a great job of mucking up the game. They stayed super-disciplined. I say it all the time, (Hayden) is our motor. When she's going offensively, and she gets going on both sides of the floor in that effort mode, she is tough to handle.”
Merritt paid the Crusaders a big compliment for being able to turn the game on a dime.
“Lutheran North is a tremendous basketball team, they're very athletic and very well-coached,” Merritt said. “We know they're good and we were trying to stay with them and we did a good job in the first half. They came out and had their way in the third quarter. We did everything we could and I think I used all of my timeouts trying to slow things down. I still feel like we had a really good week here and second place is a great result for us.”
In addition to Hayden's effort, which led the team through three quarters, sophomore forward Taleah Dilworth poured in a game-high 16 points.
Freshman forward Vanessa Polk led Burroughs (12-6) with six points.
North will have little time to recover before it faces Edwardsville, the No. 1 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings, at 6 p.m. Monday.
“They're just a great team, they do everything right,” Hayden said. “We're going to have to go out and play our game to the best of our abilities.”