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      Miranda Brandt did not have her "A" game Saturday.For most players, however, this game would have been an A+.Brandt, a 5-11 senior from Chamois, totaled 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Lady Pirates knocked off the New Bloomfield Lady Wildcats 40-28 during the National Guard Shootout at Fleming Fieldhouse.In the other girls games, California walloped South Callaway 59-24 and Hermann handled Fatima 54-42. On the boys side, Fatima held off Southern Boone 65-63 in a battle of top 10 teams in Class 3, Hermann rallied past California 56-53, and Chamois topped New Bloomfield 51-27.But ladies first.Brandt, who's headed to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville --- just the second Division I athlete in school history --- also had five steals in the victory. For the season, she's shooting 55 percent from the field, and averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds.Cham-wow.But on the downside, she made just three of her first 12 shots from the field and finished 6-of-18 on Saturday"I was kind of struggling with it; I couldn't hit a shot," Brandt said. "But you've got to keep shooting."Her steal and score with three minutes left in the first quarter, however, gave Chamois (7-1, ranked sixth in Class 1) a 7-5 lead, and the Lady Pirates led the rest of the way.And oh, I forgot to mention this --- Chamois' starting point guard was out so Brandt, the game's MVP, took over."She's just an unbelievable basketball player," Chamois coach Marty Gerloff said. "She can play at any spot. She's a great ball handler, she shoots it well --- even though she didn't tonight --- and a lot of those are tough shots off the dribble."And she's an unbelievable leader. I wouldn't have to come coach the team, because I think she could do it."It was 11-5 after one quarter, before the Lady Wildcats (2-6) scored the last eight points of the first half to get within 15-13.But the Lady Pirates banged home three 3-pointers in the opening three minutes of the second half, led 32-17 after three, and the lead was never in single-digits the rest of the way."Our team started hitting some outside shots after halftime," Brandt said. "It's good to have a team that will keep you going."Basketball was not an immediate passion for Brandt."When I was little, I didn't really love it," she said. "But now, I wouldn't know my life without it ... I absolutely love it to death."Her love started to blossom in seventh grade, when Brandt started playing on a competitive trailing team."I started thinking, 'Hey, I might be able to play college basketball,'" she said. "That was my wildest dream, to play Division I basketball."It's amazing, I get goose bumps just talking about it. I'm very blessed."Several other schools were in the running for Brandt's talents, but it came down to SIU and Kent State."(SIU) was closer to home," Brandt said, "and I really wanted my family and friends to be able to come and watch me play. They're such a big part of who I am."And then there's this:"The campus is like they dropped a college in the middle of the woods. It feels like home to me; I love being a farm girl." California 59, South Callaway 24 Like Brandt, California's Sydney Deeken will also be a Division I player.It just won't be in basketball."I'm not really a fan of basketball, but I love volleyball.," said Deeken, a 6-1 junior. "That's what I want to do in college."If she's no fan of basketball, why does she play?"My family wants me to help the team and I don't want to let my team down," she said.Rest assured, Deeken --- who piled up 16 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and four blocks Saturday --- could play Division I basketball.She is good."I hear that a lot," she said with a smile, "and maybe that's why I keep playing, too."The Lady Bulldogs (4-4) were battling a team flu bug and couldn't keep up with the Lady Pintos (8-2, ranked No. 8 in Class 3).A follow-shot by game MVP Deeken gave the Lady Pintos a 4-3 lead with 5:01 left in the first quarter, and California led the rest of the way. That bucket started a 33-9 surge that stretched into the third quarter, as the Lady Pintos led 11-6 after one quarter, 24-10 at the break and 42-16 entering the fourth."I think we could have come out a little stronger in first half ... we kind of played a little slow," Deeken said. "But overall, I think we did pretty good. We executed and played good defense."Deeken has already been contacted by over 40 Division I schools, including Missouri, about her volleyball talents."I'm only a junior, so I haven't really visited a lot of places," she said. "But I'm kind of leaning toward Mizzou or Iowa."But first things first, it's basketball season. And on Saturday, she put up those gaudy numbers mentioned above --- 16, 12, 5 and 4 --- despite playing sparingly in the second half.Of those stats, Deeken certainly has a favorite --- and this shouldn't be a surprise."Definitely," she said, "it's blocking shots."And when she blocks a shot, you know it, as it comes off her hand with a resounding thud."I just like hitting it really hard," she said. "I can actually swing and spike it." Hermann 54, Fatima 42 The Lady Bearcats have no seniors on the roster. They don't even have enough players on the roster to hold a scrimmage.And they're the state's No. 1 team in Class 3."I'm going to throw the No. 1 out right now, it's too early in the season," Hermann coach Todd Anderson said. "But I guess somebody has to be there."The Lady Bearcats (8-1) showed their No. 1 mettle once again, overcoming a seven-point deficit in the second quarter to get past the Lady Comets (6-3).Hermann pulled within 23-20 at the half, before outscoring Fatima 34-19 after the break to win going away."They were beating us off the dribble in the first half and we just made a few adjustments," Anderson said. "We just tried to play a little bit softer on the perimeter and keep them in front of us."Jamie Gleeson dropped in 18 points and game MVP Karinne Lane added 13 for the winners.But with a young team and very little depth, how DO they keep winning?"We've just got some really competitive kids and our point guard (Lane) plays so hard and sets the tone for the rest of the team," Anderson said. "They play really well together and each kid does their own thing well."As a whole, everything just fits together nicely."You could say that. BOYS Fatima 65, Southern Boone 63 It was no accident this was the finale of Saturday's six-game set. Call it the main event.Or saving the best for last.The Comets (9-0, ranked No. 6) jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the wire-to-wire win over the Eagles (6-2, No. 10), but it was anything but easy.Like your annoying uncle at the family Christmas party, Southern Boone would not go away."Southern Boone has a great team, give them a lot of credit," Fatima coach Ryan Robertson said. "Win or lose, it was a great environment and a great game."Fatima led 20-10 after one quarter, 35-26 at the break and 47-40 after three. After the first quarter, the lead was never less than six points until the final minute.The Comets helped make it close down the stretch. They had a 58-48 lead AND the ball with 3:19 left when Tanner Gentges was called for an offensive foul, which was his fifth foul, which in turn led to a technical foul on the Fatima bench. That led to a four-point Southern Boone possession and it was 58-52.In the final minute, the Comets could have salted it away at the free throw line. But instead of scoring a possible six points, they missed the front end of two one-and-ones and scored only one point.A three-point play the Eagles' Nick Carlos --- a 6-7 senior who's headed to Central Michigan to become the first Division I athlete in school history --- pulled Southern Boone within 63-61 with 20 seconds left.Carlos finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds."He's just a great player," Robertson said. "He breaks down a defense and he can finish."Finally, the charity stripe became "free" instead of a penalty shot, as Austin Schubert hit a pair with 11 seconds left to make it 65-61 and basically end it. Those were the junior's only points of the game."That's some clutch free throw shooting right there," Robertson said.Game MVP Patrick Schnieders canned four 3-pointers and scored 20 points for Fatima, Tom Zeilman hit three 3-pointers and scored 19, while 6-7 senior Chad Stegeman collected 13 points and seven rebounds.If you're looking for the biggest difference in the game, here it is: Fatima was 7-of-17 on 3-balls, while Southern Boone was 1-of-10. In a two-point game, the Comets held an 18-point edge beyond the arc.And in the process, they broke a lengthy losing streak to the Eagles."They'd gotten us a bunch in a row, I don't know how many it was," Robertson said."I don't know if it's a monkey off our back or not, but I thought we grew a little bit tonight." Hermann 56, California 53 The Bearcats stunned the Pintos down the stretch, as they finished the game with a 15-2 run to pull out the three-point victory.The Pintos (5-4) held a 51-41 lead midway through the fourth quarter --- and the Bearcats (4-5) had two starters on the bench with five fouls.But game MVP Matt Hug, a 6-2 freshman, caught fire, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 13 of his 22 points in the final quarter to spark the comeback."He really came to life; he stepped up and made some big plays," Hermann coach Tim Spiers said of Hug, who averages 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench. "Offensively, he's way beyond a freshman. If he keeps working hard and doing the right things, he could be very good."He played well and I give the other kids a lot of credit, too, for getting him the ball in good positions."Craig Winkelmann added 13 points for Hermann, which led 26-25 at the half. For California, junior Dylan Albertson netted 19 points, 16 of those coming in the second half. Chamois 51, New Bloomfield 27 The Pirates held the Wildcats to single digits in every quarter in a 24-point victory to start the nine-hour day of basketball.Chamois (4-6) led 12-6 after one quarter, 30-15 at the half and 38-20 after three quarters. Game MVP Eli Stroble tallied 12 points for the winners.For New Bloomfield (0-9), Justice Richards scored 12 points.