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SECOND-HALF DROUGHT KILLS ANGELS' HOPES

Holy Angels would like to say it took its best shot, but shooting proved its biggest nemesis on Sunday.

The Angels' lack of offense cost them a chance at their second consecutive Catholic state title as St. Dominic won the Class B crown, 41-34, before a small crowd at Binghamton High School.

The Lady Bayhawks (20-6), representing the Rockville Center Diocese, advanced to this weekend's Federation Tournament in Glens Falls. Holy Angels ended its season 22-4.

The Angels scored just 11 points in the second half and didn't score in the fourth quarter until the last 38 seconds. Only three players recorded points for the Angels: Dana Fitchlee (21), Jen LaBuda (seven) and Colleen Maloney (six). Add 30 turnovers to the mix, and it equals defeat.

"I just wasn't shooting well tonight," said LaBuda, who was 3 of 10 from the floor. "We were getting good shots, they just weren't falling."

The Angels' lack of scoring from the outside enabled St. Dominic to sag on the inside against Fitchlee. "Every time she got the ball, we'd double down on her," said St. Dominic coach Michele O'Brien. "When we went to a man, we wanted a person on the low and on the high side of her to stop her."

Holy Angels was trying to add the 1998 state title to its previous championships in 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1997. Prospects looked good early as the Angels built a six-point lead at halftime. The Angels were able to get the ball inside to Fitchlee against the shorter Lady Bayhawks, and Fitchlee scored 13 of her points in the first two quarters.

But the lead slowly slipped away as St. Dominic spread its offense until the middle opened long enough to invite a drive by one of its quick guards.

"We started to feel the pressure, and we didn't handle it very well," said Angels coach Mike DelValle. "I think our freshmen and sophomores became freshmen and sophomores again. The inexperience really showed in the fourth quarter."

A layup by sophomore guard Chrissy Pagano with 7:14 left in the game gave St. Dominic the lead for good at 30-29. It was the start of a 9-0 run that doomed the Angels. Stephanie O'Brien and Pagano combined for four free throws in the final 30 seconds to clinch it.

Holy Angels entered the game ranked No. 3 in the state in Class B with St. Dominic at No. 14.

The Angels were competitive on the boards with Fitchlee grabbing 15 and LaBuda and Jamie Donnelly adding seven each.

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