Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Girls Basketball: Bruns Triggers Second-Half Rally to Propel Kirkwood Past Rival Webster Groves

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Girls Basketball: Bruns Triggers Second-Half Rally to Propel Kirkwood Past Rival Webster Groves

Article excerpt

Natalie Bruns did not want to sound conceited.

The Kirkwood High senior was simply being honest.

Bruns was stunned last season when the Pioneers' run as two-time Class 5 state champions came crashing to an end in a district loss.

She never forgot it.

"It was the first time I'd ever ended my season with a loss," Bruns said. "I don't want it to sound like I'm great or something. But that was new to me and definitely upsetting. I was determined not to let it happen ever again."

Bruns did her best to extend her final campaign on Thursday night.

The New York University-bound winger poured in a game-high 19 points to help Kirkwood to a hard-fought 38-34 win over Webster Groves in the Class 5 District 4 championship game at Danis Fieldhouse on the Saint Louis University High campus.

Kirkwood (22-4) advanced to face Marquette (17-9) in a sectional contest at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Lindenwood University.

The Pioneers needed some second-half magic to fend off the upset-minded Statesmen (18-10).

And Bruns helped provide it.

"Natalie did Natalie," Kirkwood coach Monica Tritz said. "She just dominated."

Bruns and her teammates made one key play after another during crunch time. Senior Rylee Mulvaney scored six of her eight points in the final 5 minutes, 21 seconds. Senior Olivia Giardino canned a free throw with 14 ticks left.

Kirkwood closed the game on a 9-4 run after the Statesmen took a 30-29 lead on a foul shot by Eliza Maupin with 2 minutes left.

"It was all about defense and rebounding," Mulvaney said. "We were able to finish shots and everything started working."

Senior Katherine Jozwiakowski also came up with a momentum-changing basket early in the second half.

"Us seniors, we just weren't going to let it end the way it did last year," Bruns said. "Not a chance."

Mulvaney scored on a driving layup before Bruns hit two foul shots to put the Pioneers in front to stay 33-32 with 1:50 left.

Bruns, who is hitting 78 percent from the foul line, then sank two more free throws to stretch the lead to three. …

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