February 16th, 2015

St. Gabriel wins CSAA crown

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

St. Gabriel wins CSAA crown
St. Gabriel’s players and coaches celebrate with the girls’ 8th-grade 1-AA championship trophy after beating Holy Trinity / photo by Eric Thorne

The battle of the 8th-grade girls’ teams from Holy Trinity and St. Gabriel took until the final minute to decide which team was going to crack and which one would grab the CSAA’s championship trophy.

With ice in her veins, Regan Berger calmly drained six free throws in the final minute to lead St. Gabriel to the 1-AA title 32-23 Sunday at Trinity High School.

“That was a really hard game,” said Berger, who finished with 13 points. “I just knew that I wanted to make those free throws down the stretch, but if I didn’t I knew that my teammates were there to back me up. I’ve really been practicing a lot and felt good about making them when I got up there.”

The score was tied at half time and at the end of the third quarter and was still knotted at 22 with 2:13 left to play. The tide turned at that point as Holy Trinity center Kristen Clemons picked up her fifth foul. The Eagles’ other inside threat, Mattie Tabor, was also saddled with four fouls.

St. Gabriel had found the crack and went to work inside.

Ryan Ann Hobbs posted up inside looking for lobs and tipping misses, even though she had taken a hard fall earlier in the fourth quarter but refused to come out while grabbing her right ankle in pain. With 1:20 left she took a lob inside and was fouled. Still hobbling, she walked to the free-throw line and sank 1 of 2 to give her team a 24-22 lead. She chased down her missed second attempt and tipped the ball to Berger for an uncontested layup.

“When the game started, we really didn’t know what they were going to run, but we knew we just had to keep pushing and try and really force turnovers,” Berger said. “At the same time we knew we couldn’t rush things either. We had to be patient. When they (Clemons and Tabor) got in foul trouble we knew we had to push it inside because all their bigs were out.”

Holy Trinity coach Tim Luckett stepped up the pace and pressure, but with his two inside girls sidelined, the shots just wouldn’t fall.

“The biggest factor was our foul trouble with Clemons and Tabor, and St. Gabriel’s ability to hit their free throws (15 of 25),” Luckett said. “They are a great shooting team. I give so much credit to St. Gabriel. Their girls played a great game. At the same time, I am just very proud of our team. They stuck together and fought together. They are eighth graders and sometimes that age can tend to fall apart when things aren’t going their way. But they have been together a while and they just never stopped supporting and fighting for each other.”

The third quarter saw both teams have a hard time finding the basket. Holy Trinity only trailed 18-17 when Clemons picked up her fourth foul with 47 seconds left in the period and had to go to the bench.  A putback by Holy Trinity’s Elizabeth Hanley knotted the score at 19 heading to the final period.

Tabor tried to keep her squad in the game until Clemons returned with 2:50 left, but she fouled out 37 seconds later. From there Berger went to work at the free-throw line to ice the victory. Clemons finished with five points, while Tabor dropped in 10.

“All year long we knew that Holy Trinity matched up very well with us,” St. Gabriel coach John Wolfe said. “Both games this year came down to one point with them, getting one win and us one win. I really respect those kids and their coaches on that team. They are longtime coaches who have done so much for some many kids.”

Mary O’Toole added seven points for St. Gabriel.

“It is so exciting that this is my eighth-grade year and I really wanted to win this game,” Berger said. “It is what all me and my teammates have been working so hard toward.”

Wolfe agreed.

“These girls are just gym rats, and I can honestly say if they don’t have a ball in their hand, they will probably be in a bad mood,” the St. Gabriel coach said. “They just work so hard. Regan is just such a big game player with outstanding talent. She puts in the extra time in the gym and I think you saw that pay off today. I am so happy for all of these girls.”



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