MACEDONIA: Two points separated Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown and St. Vincent-St. Mary on Wednesday in a Division II district championship girls basketball game.
After 32 minutes of fierce competition, the Blazers prevailed 62-60 to send the Irish back to Akron unhappy.
St. V-M coach Carley Whitney summed up the loss as “disappointing” as the Irish season ended with an 18-7 record. The Blazers move onto the regional bracket at 15-10.
Sophomore Jackie Carman led the Blazers with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Junior Annie Santucci paced St. V-M with 14 points, two blocks and two steals and senior Lexie Handley finished with 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
“This is a great matchup,” Whitney said. “They are a great team. My girls play really hard and they were a bucket better than we were tonight. I give credit to Hathaway Brown. I have a senior-laden team, a very athletic team. I thought we did a good job with our adjustments at halftime, getting the ball inside and making shots. ... I am very, very blessed and happy to have coached such a stellar group of kids.”
Carman, who missed the first 11 games of the season because of the OHSAA transfer rule after leaving Twinsburg, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Blazers. She made a layup, two 3-pointers and four free throws in the final eight minutes.
“It was very hard to sit out the first half of the season, but I knew from sitting out what my team needed on the court, and I was able to understand the game better while sitting,” Carman said. “Everything just came together here today.”
When asked why she left Twinsburg, Carman said: “It was schooling and mainly my parents’ decision. They thought I would have better opportunities here. Not that my opportunities were bad at Twinsburg, but they think this is a better school for me.”
Senior Jordan Elhindi made two free throws with 13.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to give the Blazers a 62-57 lead, and Handley swished a 3-pointer as time expired.
“I’d say we are dead even,” Blazers coach Mike Coreno. “We were just on the other side of the scoreboard. That is a great team over there. We made runs and they made runs. They made an early run [and led 5-0], and we made a second run [and led 20-13]. It was a one-point game at halftime [with St. V-M up 25-24].
“They put together a great third quarter and led 50-40 going into the fourth quarter. We have been watching them, and their trend is they play well in the third quarter. They played well in the third quarter when we lost to them at our house [by one point in the regular season], and then they had a big third quarter tonight.”
St. V-M junior Payton Pooler scored nine points, and seniors Octavia Loll and Jane Uecker each scored eight points. Loll grabbed 13 rebounds and Uecker six. Irish sophomore Faith Williams scored seven points and classmate Kendall Miller made a 3-pointer.
Blazers junior Dani Lawson had 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Elhindi totaled 13 points, five steals, four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Hanna Harlor had seven points and nine rebounds, and junior Mackenzie Berk scored three points.
“In the fourth quarter, the kids kind of bonded together and took the approach of we gotta get this done together,” Coreno said. “Jackie was huge tonight. ... Her fourth quarter, driving to the basket and making free throws was big for us.”