(Amesbury MA) St. Mary’s 47, Archbishop Williams 45.
Quite a remarkable game. I saw the end of it and took some pictures of the excitement.
Anyone who saw that game on Tuesday afternoon at the TD Garden will use two words to explain how St. Mary’s won: Brianna Rudolph.
The MIAA may have had Brianna’s name wrong in the program (“Nicole,”) but both teams were keenly aware of her. I never saw a Spartans’ possession in the frontcourt where the ball wasn’t in her hands. For the Archies, every Brianna free-throw attempt was an opportunity to swing into the Christmas spirit with a student-section rendition of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
The second-half numbers clearly reveal the impact Brianna had in getting St. Mary’s a Division 3 state semifinals win. The Spartans’ senior was directly responsible for twenty-three of St. Mary’s twenty-seven second half points. After Brianna reached nineteen points in the second half she then assisted on the tying basket (Kayla Carter) and the winning basket (Sharell Sanders) late in the game.
Brianna (UMass Lowell commit) did finish with thirty-one points but those last two assists were more important to the final score than any of the points.
The entire early run of stories about the St. Mary’s/Archbishop Williams game missed the significant point that Alana Gilmer was defending Brianna.
The last two games I saw the Archies play were in last year’s D3 state semifinals and finals. Alana put up points but it was her defense that paved the way for AW wins over Pentucket and Lee.
Against Pentucket (state semifinals), 6-foot Alana limited Coley Viselli to three points. Against Lee (state finals) Alana held Stephanie Young also to three points. Both of those talented seniors were 1000-point scorers who had shot over and driven around many previous defenders. But not Alana. She is tall enough to make the 3-point shot less wide open and fast enough to keep contact on a drive. She is very good at blocking shots and got Brianna several times.
Anyhow, my point in that this was no random defender on Brianna. But she got thirty-one points. How? Speed and a quick jump shot off the dribble.
That jump shot allows a shorter player to be into the jump shot before the taller defender is set to block the attempt. Brianna used that jump shot to get open several times against Alana who is four inches taller.
The Archies did a terrific job against the Spartans’ 1000-point scorer Jennie Mucciarone. A very helpful stat sheet (Thank you, MIAA!) revealed that Jennie missed all fifteen shots she took. There’s more to that story………at least ten of those shots were blocked! AW had sixteen blocks. The Archies were able to throw Jennie off her game the same way Alana had thrown Coley Viselli and Stephanie Young off their games the previous tournament season.
St. Mary’s last two baskets were very similar. Brianna drove in from the left into a double-team. Both times she had the good basketball sense to realize that teammates were open……..and they were open in close. First it was sophomore Kayla Carter in the low key wide open, and then it was senior Sharell Sanders in the same spot for the eventual game-winner. In both cases, Brianna’s passes turned into perfect setups.
Archbishop Williams had a timeout and twenty seconds to do something about STM’s two-point (47-45) lead. I never doubted that Alana (18 points) would get the final shot. She ended up with a contested (Kayla Carter & Sharell Sanders) jump shot along the baseline which rimmed out. After a scramble, Kayla came up with the rebound and called a timeout with 2.3 seconds left. After a timeout, the Spartans got the ball into Brianna’s hands to dribble out the clock.
The win earns St. Mary’s a trip to the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday for a title game against Hoosac Valley at 10:45AM.
Hoosac Valley is from Cheshire which is in the northwest corner of Massachusetts about fifteen minutes from the New York and Vermont borders.
The Hurricanes are 23-1 and won their state semifinals game by two points over Bellingham. HV lost that same game last year.
Their only loss? To a team from Ohio (Austintown Fitch) in Florida during winter break.
In twenty-two of the Hurricanes’ wins they have won by more than ten points.
According to Hoosac’s coach (Ron Wojcik), Austintown Fitch was the, “only team able to handle our pressure and keep turnovers down.”
St. Mary’s had only six turnovers against Archbishop Williams. Look for them to keep the ball in the hands of Sharell Sanders and Brianna Rudolph.
St. Mary’s won the state title in 2011 over Lee.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)