Carrie Owens explained her team’s luck against Mount St. Mary in blunt terms.
“They whipped our butts twice in the regular season,” the Sacred Heart girls basketball coach said.
Owens wasn’t going to let the Sharks fall to the Thunder for a third time. She leveled with her team as to what it would take to win against the Thunder.
“All season long, I kept telling the girls, ‘our records didn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter if we lose to a team. What matters is the games that we win,’ ” Owens said. “And I said, ‘what matters is if we win Monday and today, and we go to states.’ ”
Friday at Villa Maria Academy, Sacred Heart held Mount St. Mary to four successful shots from the floor in the second and third quarters, and built a lead of as many as 20 points in a 51-37 win for the Monsignor Martin Association Class A Division championship.
Singo Lekeuneu led Christian Central Academy with 30 points as it defeated Buffalo Seminary, 50-45, Friday at Villa Maria for the Monsignor Martin Association Class B Division championship.
This is the first time Monsignor Martin has had a separate Class A playoff to determine the league’s Class A representative in the New York State Catholic High Schools Athletic Association playoffs.
Pete Schneider, executive director of the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association, said the NYSCHSAA set a requirement last year at the state meeting to send three representatives in three classes from Monsignor Martin to the state tournament for three classifications. In years past, the top two teams in Class AA went to the playoffs and the third team was designated for Class A.
In the Class A final, Siobhan Ryan scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds for Sacred Heart, and Morgan Giancaterino added 11. Lois Garlow led the Thunder with 11 points, but was guarded by Ryan, who took on multiple roles for the Sharks, four nights after she scored 29 points in a 47-44 win Monday in an A semifinal against Mount Mercy.
“I said, ‘Siobahn, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to do it all tonight,’ ” said Owens, whose team defeated Mount Mercy in a semifinal game on Monday.
“I asked Siobahn to guard their best player. I asked Siobahn to bring up the ball, I asked Siobhan to rebound and I asked Siobahn to sometimes swtich off and guard their post players and rebound. And she has to do it all and she really rose to the occasion.”
Sacred Heart (11-15) opened an 8-7 lead to 16-7 early in the second quarter, and held Mount St. Mary without a successful shot from the floor for more than seven minutes, a stretch that bridged the first and second quarters.
The Thunder (19-7) didn’t hit a shot until less than four minutes before halftime, when Garlow’s layup cut Sacred Heart’s lead to 19-9. Still, the Thunder finished only 2 for 14 from the floor in the second quarter as Sacred Heart took a 27-11 lead at halftime, going 5 for 7 from the floor and 5 for 6 on free throws.
Free-throw shooting helped the Thunder cut the lead to 13 points late in the third quarter, as Mount Saint Mary went 7 for 8 from the line in the final 22.5 seconds of the third quarter and 11 for 12 of the quarter, and attempted a rally, cutting Sacred Heart’s 15-point lead to 10 with 2:32 left.
“Maybe it was a little bit of a surprise, Siobahn covering Lois, because she was always covering Grace (O’Brien) and they’re always switching defenses,” Mount St. Mary coach Fran Snyder said. “But once they got ahead a little bit we started trying to do to much, playing like we were trying to get six points on one play. It kind of went from there. At halftime we said, ‘hey, we still have a chance, but we’ve got to keep working and try to change the game and try to get easier baskets.’ ”
In the Class B final, Lekeuneu had 13 points at halftime for Christian Central (13-6), which had only three bench players but took a 28-14 lead into the third quarter.
Buffalo Seminary (8-9), however, opened with an 8-1 run that cut the Crusaders’ lead to eight points, at 29-22 three minutes into the second half.
Every time the Red Tailed Hawks came within less than 10 points of the Crusaders, Lekeuneu answered, whether it was with a pair of free throws or a 3-pointer, and the Crusaders took a 40-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Buffalo Seminary used a 9-0 run to cut Christian Central’s lead from 46-36 to 46-45 with 1:15 left in regulation, on Kailyn Lane’s 3-pointer with less than 80 seconds left.
“They were getting second-chance opportunities, rebounding more than us and putting it back up and getting those points, Lekeuneu said of Buffalo Seminary’s comeback attempt.
But the Red Tailed Hawks couldn’t find the go-ahead shot, and Lekeuneu sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds left.
“It was important for me to make my free throws, and I knew I’d been making them the whole game,” Lekeuneu said. “So, I had to knock two more down.”