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Late Spark Lifts St. Anthony’s Back To NSCHSAA Finals
Senior guard Rebecca Musgrove just shook her head when asked about St. Anthony’s shooting percentage in the first half of their semi-final game against St. John the Baptist.
“It’s happened this season,” she said of St. A’s game against St. John Vianney earlier this season. “We were down 19 in that game and came back to win it. I know nothing is impossible.”
Despite never falling more than 11 points, the Friars’ first half shooting woes made a comeback seem nearly impossible, but the Brown-bound Musgrove led a 27-12 second half charge for St. A’s that downed a streaking SJB squad put them back in the finals, 44-40.
And the Friars’ prime antagonist in that lopsided first half? None other than former Friar, Lauren Williams. The junior guard was lights, camera and action for the Cougars, puncturing the Friars’ defense with speed and precision to score 10 of her team high 21 points in the first quarter. A trey from the parking lot, courtesy of freshman sharp shooter Sydney Zambrotta, was the launching pad – the Cougars continued to roll in the second quarter.
Freshman guard Italee Brown-Smikle and senior floor general Aliyah Smith (6 points each) joined the fray and expanded SJB’s lead into double digits. Williams swished a trey with 2:40 left in the half to give the Cougars their largest lead of the game, 28-17. Conversely, St. A’s couldn’t seem to buy, barter for or steal a bucket.
“Offensively there were points we played poorly,” admitted St. A’s Head Coach Ken Parham. “It was so bad it was like we were giving them offense, easy shots in transition.”
The stale shooting continued into the third quarter, but more often than not, defense creates offense. The Friars tried their hand at tightening the screws and began to see results.
“We switched from man to zone [defense] to keep [Williams] on the perimeter,” said Coach Parham. And silencing the three ball also stymied SJB’s momentum.
“[Williams and Smith] kept driving so we had to stop letting them get past us, but we also had to stop [Zambrotta] because she’s the shooter,” said Musgrove. The Friars still needed buckets, though, and their senior leader answered the call.
Musgrove scored 9 of her game high 22 points in the third quarter bringing the Friars within a deuce with 1:25 left, 32-30. With the Cougars gone silent, junior Coulter Bowlen converted a behind the back pass from point guard Tyla Parham to give the Friars their first lead since the first quarter, 39-38. SJB would never respond, despite solid efforts from Smith.
“We got going early, but we weren’t able to stay consistent in the second half,” said SJB Head Coach ted Oberg. The Friars’ consistency appeared when it counted and because of that, they’ll be at LIU Post on Sunday to defend their hardware. But against an undefeated and hungry St. Mary’s team, Coach Parham knows offensive struggles of this magnitude may present a greater problem.
shoot the ball like this on Sunday, there could be some problems,” he said.
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