Good things happen for the St. Vincent-St. Mary girls basketball team when the ball goes into the post on offense.
Opponents who size up St. V-M in person or on film know what’s coming, but in the past seven games, the Irish have found success near the basket when the ball has been in the hands of Lanae Riley, Maria Dobson and Sophia Williams.
Those three players are a key reason why St. V-M (18-9) will meet Dayton Carroll (26-2) in a Division II state semifinal game at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Schottenstein Center’s Value City Arena.
“We really look to our post players for production and our guards bring a defensive presence and also orchestrate the entire thing,” Irish coach Carley Whitney said. “Between Maria Dobson, Lanae Riley and Sophia Williams — they do a lot of for us, and I have a very deep bench as well where I play sometimes four or five kids.
“Actually, my second unit is taller than my first unit, so we are very long and tall when the second unit comes in. I play different lineups every night. We play a fast, intense ball-pressure style game, and I hope the depth at our positions and the nine or 10 kids that I rotate will eventually outweigh your rotation.”
Riley, a 6-foot-2 freshman, averages about 16 points and nine rebounds per game.
“Lanae Riley has grown so much, not only development-wise, in her basketball game,” Whitney said. “I don’t care who you are, it is hard to be a freshman and start varsity and be dominant. … She has grown before my eyes into a woman. I am excited to see what she is going to be like in the 12th grade.”
Dobson, a 5-8 senior, averages about 15 points, five rebounds and three assists per game, and Williams, a 6-0 senior, averages about 12 points and nine rebounds per game.
“Maria Dobson is the heartbeat of our team,” Whitney said. “She works so hard and nothing about her game is smooth. She works her tail off.”
Riley, Dobson and Williams have led the Irish on this recent seven-game winning streak that has propelled them to Columbus. All three players start, along with 5-6 senior Jada Haines and 5-4 sophomore Dream Cherry.
Haines averages about eight points and six assists per game, and Cherry contributes about five points and four assists per game.
Aubrie Marsh, a 6-3 senior, and Annie Watson, a 5-10 freshman, play regularly off the bench, and 5-6 sophomore Tezjah Brooks and 5-11 senior Mackenzie Moss are also in the rotation. If needed, the Irish can also call on 5-10 senior Sydney Korinek, 6-0 senior Samaria Murry and 5-6 junior Ari Johnson
“We did start the season 2-5, but I think that we got in the gym and we worked hard and we worked together,” Dobson said. “Being together as one unit is what turned this around.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.