ALBANY – One bad game didn’t totally sour the Federation Tournament of Champions Basketball Tournament experience for upstart Mount St. Mary.
Yes, it would have been great to cap a season of firsts with the school’s first Federation Class B championship.
But now that the Thunder have received a taste of big-time basketball, first-year coach Mike McCarthy should have an easier time motivating future editions of the team to put in the work of the current group.
Alliance of Independent Schools champion Staten Island Academy’s size and athleticism proved to be too much for the Thunder to handle as the Mount dropped a 50-33 decision in the Federation final before an estimated 150 at University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena.
Tournament MVP Corinn Baggs scored a game-high 23 points to lead Staten Island, while Sam Spadaro added nine as the Tigers (19-6) became just the third team in 15 games to beat Mount St. Mary.
“We knew it was a tough opponent from the beginning,” McCarthy said. “Our girls, they weren’t themselves today. I think our first time being here may have affected us a little bit. It was a great learning experience for us.”
The Tigers pounced on the Mount with an 11-0 run in the first 4 minutes, 15 seconds. The Thunder committed two turnovers during that spree but also missed a couple of shots that had they fallen maybe things would’ve gone differently.
For the game, Mount shot just 21 percent from the floor (10 for 47), while Staten Island went 19 for 53 (36 percent), outscoring the Thunder, 30-16, in the paint.
“We missed a bunch a layups but I’m proud of our girls,” McCarthy said.
“They fought till the end. They always do. Maybe next year with a few less nerves we’re in a better position.”
Savanna Masecchia and Cheyenne Freeley each had eight points to lead Mount St. Mary (15-13).
Senior Julie Fleming, who had 26 points in Saturday’s semifinal win over Brooklyn College Academy, was limited to one point but she grabbed 14 rebounds – earning a spot on the all-tournament team.
While she’s disappointed the last game of her career ended in defeat, the fact the Thunder made it this far after a rocky start to the season is something Fleming will always remember, along with her teammates. Besides being part of the first Monsignor Martin Association championship team at the school, she’s also part of the first state Catholic championship outfit and overall state runner-up team.
“It was about the journey and how it started rocky and got this far,” said Fleming, who plans to play volleyball in college for D’Youville. “It was really exciting.”