The St. Anthony's girls basketball team will get a rematch with St. John the Baptist in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA finals following a 52-37 victory Friday over Sacred Heart in the semi-finals at St. Dominic's High School in Oyster Bay.
The Friars took a 2-0 lead seconds after winning the opening tip and did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game. The Spartans did close the gap to 1 in the third quarter and got within 2 in the fourth after a Nina Corcoran 3, but St. Anthony's pulled away after that, outscoring Sacred Heart 16-3 over the remainder of the game.
Heroes: It was a fantastic team effort overall from the Friars, who had three scorers in double figures. Sophomore Rebecca Musgrove led the way with 13, adding four rebounds and six steals. Senior captain Kerrin Maurer netter 11, while fellow senior captain Micki Impellizeri added 10. Impellizeri also led the team with seven rebounds and three assists, while Maurer also contributed four rebounds and three steals.
"The kids played hard," said St. Anthony coach Ken Parham. "The other team played hard as well, they really gave us a great game. And the kids did a nice job. They stuck with it, and they continued to work."
Leading the way on the stat sheet for Sacred Heart was senior Taylor Higgins, who led all scorers with 16. She also led her team with three assists, tied for the team lead with four steals, and added four rebounds. Corcoran added nine points, four rebounds, and four steals for the Spartans.
Turning Point: St. Anthony's took a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime following a 10-2 run to end the first half. But they nearly gave all of it back at the start of the second, as Sacred Heart opened the half with a 9-0 run of its own. "They came out with more intensity than we did," said Parham. "That wasn't planned, that's for sure."
Parham was able to settle his team down with a timeout and get them to start trading baskets again. "We had to call timeout," he said. "We had to talk about a couple of things we needed to work on. We started to do some of those things, and that helped us."
Sacred Heart was able to pull back within 2 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but it seemed to run out of gas from that point on as St. Anthony's took over, outscoring the Spartans 16-3 the rest of the way and seemingly doing whatever they wanted at both ends. "We hit a good stride at a good time," Parham said.
Quotable: As St. Anthony's started to pull away, Sacred Heart's only line of defense to the Friars' layups came via fouls. The Spartans fouled particularly hard down the stretch as well, which worried coach Parham to the point that he instructed his players to take precautions while on the floor.
"I was just telling them that when they went to the basket, to go strong and use their body," he said. "When we were going to the basket, they were hitting us pretty hard. A couple of the girls were going off balance and falling into the wall pretty hard. I just didn’t want anyone to get hurt, so I wanted them to go off two feet and under control."
Key Stat: Musgrove, who was St. Anthony's top scorer against Sacred Heart, was fifth on the team in scoring coming into the game, registering 145 points to this point of the season. Maurer led the team with 251 points, with Simone Kelly (194), Micki Impellizeri (190), and Lauren Williams (187) also in front of Musgrove.
Upcoming: Sunday's Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA Championship will not be the last game of the season for St. Anthony's. The defending CHSAA Class A state champions know they will be playing in one of the state tournaments again this year. For now, though, their focus is on their rematch with St. John the Baptist, who they already beat twice this season on their way to an undefeated conference record.
"It's our third time playing them," said coach Parham. "They're a good team. It should be a good game."
Team 1 2 3 4 F
Sacred Heart 6 9 14 8 37
St. Anthony's 9 16 11 16 52
Sacred Heart: Higgins 4-12-16; Corcoran 3-6-9; K. Carey 2-2-4; Cody 2-0-2; Conto 2-0-2; Rosenthal 2-0-2; LaCasse 0-2-2.
St. Anthony's: Musgrove 3-10-13; Maurer 7-4-11; M. Impellizeri 5-5-10; Kelly 4-3-7; Jackson 4-1-5; Williams 2-1-3; Taylor 0-3-3.
St. Anthony's 29 (10 OFF, 19 DEF), Sacred Heart 23 (7 OFF, 16 DEF).
St. Anthony's: M. Impellizeri 7, Kelly 6, J. Impellizeri 4, Musgrove 4, Maurer 4, Williams 2, Taylor.
Sacred Heart: Cody 7, Carey 4, Corcoran 4, Conto 3, Higgins 3, Pasquale, Rosenthal.
ASSISTS: St. Anthony's 9 (M. Impellizeri 3, Taylor 2, Kelly, Williams, Maurer, Musgrove.), Sacred Heart 5 (Higgins 3, Corcoran, Cody).
STEALS: Sacred Heart 14 (Higgins 4, Corcoran 4, K. Carey 3, Cody, Conto, Rosenthal), St. Anthony's 14 (Musgrove 6, Maurer 4, M. Impellizeri 4, Kelly 2).
BLOCKS: St. Anthony's 4 (Kelly, J. Impellizeri, Maurer, M. Impellizeri), Sacred Heart 1 (Corcoran).