(Worcester) St. Mary’s of Lynn captured the Division 3 girls crown on Saturday morning over Lee, 64-54, at the DCU Center.
Anyone who watched this game were impressed with the Spartans (24-4) as they shot and defended their way to a huge lead (60-38) after 27+ minutes.
Good thing because over the last 4+ minutes of the game Lee (24-2) rattled off eighteen straight points to close to 60-54 with twenty-seven seconds left.
After a timeout, the Spartans finished with four Kirsten Ferrari (16 points) free throws and a blocked shot by Tori Faieta on Stephanie Young (14 points) to capture the crown.
Lee had lost in February to the Spartans in Lynn by a 71-60 score. In that one, Lee fell behind 27-4 after one quarter before rallying to make a game of it.
St. Mary’s had more than too much size for Lee. They also knew how to take advantage of it. Nineteen of St. Mary’s twenty-six baskets came on layups. Many of them involved interaction between Cassi Amenta (16 points) and Tori Faieta (16 points).
The Spartans had an alarming twenty-seven turnovers but it was Lee that was bitten by the miscue bug early. They committed four of their seven for the game in the first 4 ½ minutes and St. Mary’s jumped in front, 12-3. All six Spartan baskets were layups with two each by Cassi and Tori and one each by Brianna Rudolph (11 points) and Kirsten Ferrari.
St. Mary’s ran seven straight (layups Cassi and Tori, jumper and free throw Brianna) to move ahead, 26-16, halfway into the second quarter.
A three by Kirsten and another layup by Tori and the Spartans were in command, 33-20, at the half.
St. Mary’s built the lead to 45-28, five minutes into the third period with five straight points with the familiar; Tori layup, Cassi layup, and Brianna free throw.
Later, in the final quarter it was more of the same for the Spartans. This time the segment was 10-2 as Ann Marie Idusuyi, Sharell Sanders, Cassi, and Brianna hit 2’s and Kirsten hit her second three of the game. Eileen Dooley had the lone response for Lee.
We’re talking commanding lead (60-38) with 4:15 remaining. But ten empty possessions with seven turnovers later, Lee was close but Kirsten’s four free throws prevented St. Mary’s from being on the wrong side of what might well have been the biggest collapse in state final history.
I saw Lee defeat Pentucket last year in the state final. I went in underestimating Lee because I didn’t know their history. I learned that their girls basketball program has won more state championships (seven) than any other school in the state in any sport, boys or girls. They aren’t used to losing and they play that way. That St. Mary’s could defeat them twice (in a season) is noteworthy.
If Lee was looking for an excuse they could have referred to Alex Young being on the bench wearing one of those fearsome knee braces. She didn’t play, and apparently hasn’t played most of the season. Last year she had twenty points in the championship win over Pentucket. At 5’10” she might have offered some answers to Cassi and Tori.
Tori had at least five blocks (by my count) on Stephanie Young (14 points). She should shine at Stonehill next season.
The Spartans shot a sizzling 26-for-44 (59%). A great inside game will do that for you.
If Lee is searching for a stat that did them in here’s one: they were 0-for-14 on 3-pointers. Hit a couple of those and things would have been even more interesting in their late-game rush.
(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures. Any mistakes are unintentional.)