February 14th, 2016

St. Stephen Martyr nabs CSAA crown

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

St. Stephen Martyr nabs CSAA crown
Corrine Butcher (shooting) scored 19 points for St. Stephen Martyr, which beat St. Paul 37-25 for the eighth-grade girls’ A Division title / photo by Eric Thorne

Olivia Brown was a thief on defense and Corrine Butcher was money on offense as St. Stephen Martyr capped an undefeated season by defeating St. Paul 37-25 for the championship of the CSAA eighth-grade girls’ A Division Sunday at Trinity High School.

Brown came up with eight steals and Butcher poured in 19 points for St. Stephen Martyr, which dealt St. Paul its only two losses this season.

“It was a tough, hard-fought game and I’m proud of the girls, but they were just the better team out there today,” St. Paul head coach Joe Nalley said. “I think we kind of got tired in the end.”

St. Paul jumped out to the an lead as Madalynn Nalley scored the first two buckets and then the final one of the first quarter, which ended with the Raiders on top 11-6.  Butcher dropped in all six of St. Stephen Martyr’s points.

SSM took its first lead at 14-13 on a steal and layup by Butcher with 3:49 left in the first half. The Cardinals led 19-15 and stayed ahead until Shelby Pruitt and Jordan Scroggins were able to pull the Raiders even just before the intermission.

Butcher scored 14 of her team’s points in the half.

Basketball is my life practically, so this means so much to win the championship,” Butcher said. “I’m just a seventh grader, so it’s really exciting. I just love to be everywhere on the floor scoring, playing defense and doing whatever it takes to help my team. But defense is what won it for us.”

Scroggins scored the opening bucket of the third quarter, but St. Paul went cold until Nalley finally connected on a putback at the 1:25 mark. Meanwhile, Brown was a defensive weapon in the third quarter, grabbing four steals that led to two assist baskets and her own layup that gave the Cardinals a 26-21 lead with 2:17 left in the quarter.

Alexis Seay connected with a putback and a 12-footer just before the buzzer as St. Stephen’s advantage grew to 30-23. She then started the final quarter with a pair of foul shots, but it was Brown again with the defense and two more steals.

“It means so much to me and I’m going to miss the girls on the team, but I’ve been waiting for this a long, long time,” Brown said. “I was nervous early, but when I got comfortable and my team encouraged me I played my game. I love to play defense – that’s my game.”

St. Paul’s only points in the final quarter came on Shelby Pruitt’s layup. Meanwhile, all of St. Stephen’s points came from the foul line, where its 7-of -13 shooting included Seay’s 4 for 4.

“I am so excited because we were undefeated last year, but they beat us in the tournament , which was tough,” said Amelia Cassin, who scored seven points for the winners. “This is a nice payback to win it all this year. Coach (Cathy Ford) told us at halftime we had to fix our mistakes blocking out and apply more pressure, and that’s what we did. This is just so great.”

Ford acknowledged the message but credited her girls for listening and executing.

“I’m so happy for them I could just cry right now,” Ford said. “I make them run so much during the year that I think we were just a little fresher than a lot of teams at the end of the game. I was worried at halftime, but we turned up the defense and got some steals and put them in foul trouble. A great team win.”

Scroggins paced St. Paul with 10 points and Nalley finished with eight.

As Brown held the championship trophy, she relished the moment but had an eye on the future.

“This is so awesome and I won’t forget today, but now I can’t wait to play high school basketball at Presentation next year,” she said.



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