The St. Mary’s girls basketball team led by as many as 13 points against Kennedy Saturday night, but foul trouble in the backcourt cost the Panthers as the Eagles rallied in the second half to beat St. Mary’s 59-54 at Albany High in the BSAL championship game.
“We had to help on defense and that got us into foul trouble,” said senior guard Heide Spurgeon, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter. “I wouldn’t say we didn’t match up against (Kennedy center Deidra Chatman), but you definitely have to adjust when you play someone like that.”
The win gave Kennedy (14-0 BSAL) back-to-back undefeated league seasons and its second straight Bay Shore Athletic League title.
The two teams could meet again this week in the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs. The Eagles are the No. 3 seed and have a bye in the first round. St. Mary’s earned the sixth seed and face McKinleyville at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at home, with the winner heading to Kennedy on Wednesday.
Kennedy’s Chatman led all scorers with 20 points on Saturday, including 8-of-13 from the free-throw line, while forward Rashonda Abercrombia added 16.
Heading into the game as the heavy favorite, Kennedy looked unfocused and lackadaisical early on. Their attention shifted from the game when, midway through the first half, there was some confusion as to how many fouls Kennedy’s Crystal Thomsen had. The scorers listed three, but the Eagles counted only two.
“We couldn’t get caught up in the officials calls,” said Kennedy head coach Allen Moore. “I told them to work the ball inside and capitalize on (St. Mary’s) foul trouble.”
St. Mary’s (12-2), who squeezed out a two-point win against Holy Names to reach the finals, got into foul trouble early in Saturday’s game. Spurgeon and freshman Nateanah Fripp each picked up three fouls in the first half and were forced to the bench.
Fripp and St. Mary’s other freshman, Shantrell Sneed, led all Panthers scorers with 18 apiece Saturday night. Fripp scored 12 in the first half alone and junior guard Meghan Leary added 7 for the Panthers.
“Our two freshmen really stepped up,” Spurgeon said.
The Panthers led the entire first half, but got drawn into the Eagles’ fast-paced style of basketball in the second and was unable to set up a half court offense.
“We like to play a half court game, but we started running because we didn’t think they could rotate well,” Spurgeon said. “We got into serious foul trouble and I think we got a little disoriented.”
St. Mary’s went up by 13 with 6:08 remaining in the second quarter after Fripp was fouled on a 3-pointer. She nailed all three free throws to give the Panthers a 25-12 edge. Kennedy staged an 11-point run right before the break and narrowed the lead to a single point, 30-29, heading into the locker room.
Less than a minute into the third quarter Kennedy grabbed its first lead of the game on a bucket by Chatman. The Eagles never trailed again and led by as many as 13 with six minutes left in the game. Kennedy fought off a late St. Mary’s run in which Sneed scored 11 points in five minutes and pulled her team to within four.
“At halftime our coach started out by telling us what they were doing,” Chatman said. “I asked what we needed to do.”
The answer: get back on defense, work on positioning and get the ball inside to capitalize on St. Mary’s foul trouble.
Kennedy accomplished those goals in the second half en route to winning its second consecutive BSAL title.
“I think our coach might have taken the game a bit lightly, but our team didn’t,” Chatman said. “I was a little nervous when we were down in the first half, but I told my team that I wasn’t going to let us lose.”