St. Mary’s girls fall to Eagles for third time this season in NCS quarterfinal
The Kennedy Eagles kept the St. Mary’s girls’ basketball team from an undefeated BSAL regular season. They kept the Panthers from the league title. And on Thursday night, they kept them from continuing their season.
The Eagles beat St. Mary’s for the third time this season with a 12-1 run to finish the game, winning 51-39 in a North Coast Section Division IV quarterfinal. The Panthers went flat just when they needed to step up, scoring just four points in the fourth quarter.
“We showed an inability to handle (Kennedy’s) pressure,” St. Mary’s head coach Don Lawson said. “But we were definitely there for three quarters. We had a solid game plan. We just didn’t execute in the fourth quarter.”
The Panthers’ leading scorer, freshman Shantrell Sneed, was hampered by an illness and scored just 4 points on 2-of-12 shooting. It didn’t help matters that seemingly every time Sneed put up a shot, Kennedy center Diedra Chatman, all 6-foot-6 of her, was there to swat the ball away. Chatman had 8 blocks and 12 rebounds in the game, more than compensating for a poor offensive day with just 8 points.
“Diedra had one of the best defensive games I’ve ever seen her play,” Lawson said.
Freshman guard Natty Fripp led the Panthers with 13 points, and point guard Meghan Leary had 10 points. Kennedy got good production from its bench, with Roshonda Abercrombia scoring 15 points and Crystal Thompson pitching in with 13 points and 5 steals.
The Panthers tied the game for the final time at 37-37 when Fripp stole the ball and went for a layup on the first possession of the fourth quarter. But that was the last field goal for St. Mary’s, with two free throws all they could muster for the next seven-plus minutes.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were running the floor with ferocity. After Kamaiya Warren made a free throw for St. Mary’s to make the score 39-38 in favor of Kennedy, Thompson hit two free throws of her own, then followed with a steal and coast-to-coast layup. Chatman blocked a shot from Leary, and Abercrombia took the ball the other way for a short jumper. Chatman scored on Kennedy’s next possession, and suddenly the Panthers were down 47-38 with just three minutes left in the game.
“We just started to bog down, and we made some poor decisions,” Lawson said.
After Aisha McDaniel hit a free throw to stop the Kennedy run, the Eagles slowed the game down to a crawl, and St. Mary’s missed a couple of long 3-pointers.
Kennedy will play No. 2 Ursuline tonight in the semifinals, while the Panthers’ season is over. But with just two seniors on this year’s team and Sneed and Fripp getting their first season under their belts, St. Mary’s should be a strong contender next season.
“We’re ahead of the game at this point,” Lawson said, pointing out that the St. Mary’s girls’ program is just seven seasons old. “We should be making big pushes for Northern California and the state next season.”