The long ride home from the Bronx was a lot shorter for St. Mary's of Lancaster than for Sacred Heart as the teams had opposite fortunes in New York State Catholic High School girls championship games Sunday at Cardinal Spellman High School.
St. Mary's led all the way to take the Class B title with a 57-54 victory over Sacred Heart of Hempstead (16-6).
Buffalo's Sacred Heart had a tougher afternoon, losing the Class A final to St. Anthony's of South Huntington, 55-44.
The St. Mary's victory -- and a berth in the New York State Federation tournament at Glens Falls in two weeks -- was sparked by Raeann Stilwell, who scored 24 points, grabbed three rebounds and made eight steals. Stilwell's performance gave her a season total of 508 points, breaking the Monsignor Martin Association scoring record of 486 points, set by Kendra Brim of Nardin in 2006.
Teammate Victoria Fontana chipped in 18 points and added five assists and four rebounds for St. Mary's (16-11), which owned a 29-25 lead at intermission.
Lancers coach Keith Junik said Stephanie Simmeth (five points, four steals, seven rebounds) "won the game for us on the boards. . . . down the stretch she grabbed every rebound."
Junik added: "We led the entire game, but it was very close the whole way. . . . They knocked us around a little bit but we never relinquished the lead the whole game. . . . We took their best punch and really drove on."
St. Mary's will take a few days off before gearing up to meet Manhattan's PSAL (public schools) champ at the Glens Falls Civic Center on March 26.
Sacred Heart star Katie Healy drew two fouls in the first quarter and was held to just two points as foul trouble derailed the season finale for the Sharks (22-5). Four Sacred Heart players, including three starters, fouled out of the game, which was tied, 25-25, at halftime before the winners went on a 14-8 third-quarter run.
Sarah Pawlak, the only Sacred Heart scorer in double figures with 13 points, added nine rebounds. Freshman Latrice Hall also had nine rebounds to go with her four points.
St. Anthony's (24-6) "came out with good defense and took us out of our offense," said Debbie Laux, Sacred Heart assistant coach.