In a perfect world, the whistles would have been swallowed and the game would have gone to overtime. But things aren’t always so perfect.
St. Anne’s-Belfield was left scratching its head after their opponents were given a trip to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds left in the game, but didn’t get a trip of their own when contact was made to a shooting Ashley Taylor with the clock expiring. The 46-44 loss to Bishop O’Connell was a tough exit for the Saints, but as far as the game goes, it was a tight affair from start to finish.
“They’re a good team and they took advantage of all of our mistakes,” said STAB coach Phil Stinnie. “Anytime they saw a flaw on the defensive end, they took advantage and so you have to commend them for that.”
As frustrating as the end was for the Saints, perhaps the thing only more frustrating was the first half where STAB was 4-for-9 from the free throw line. The Saints started out in a 10-5 hole, but took the lead with an 8-0 run to follow. The second quarter was evenly-paced and little separation was created with STAB heading into the break with a 24-22 lead with Brianna Tinsley’s play at guard leading the way.
The third quarter saw the Knights take an early two point lead and cling to it tightly for the rest of the frame. While O’Connell led by as many as six, Tinsley hit a 3-pointer midway through the frame to cut the deficit in half. The Saints closed to within two points heading into the fourth, which was all kind of crazy.
O’Connell came in with a game plan to eliminate Taylor from being a scoring threat and it worked up until the senior hit a huge three pointer in the fourth quarter. With her team down by five, Taylor cut it 42-40 with 4:11 to play. From there it was a free throw competition with both teams in the bonus and fouls being called tightly. With 29 seconds left, the Knights’ Brie Perpignan hit a pair of foul shots to put her team up by two. The Saints were a much better free throw shooting team in the second half, and so with 14.4 seconds on the clock, Jayla Davis knocked down a set at the charity stripe to tie the game.
From there it was the Knights getting a late whistle and Jasmine Taylor, who’s Boston College bound, making it count. Her two foul shots were good and O’Connell had a 2-point lead with 3.6 seconds to play. That set up an inbounds play where STAB was able to get Taylor the ball at the 3-point line, but her shot was blocked with no call to wrap up the game.
“We fought through this game to get the win which I thought was great and will hopefully help going forward,” said Knights coach Aggie McCormick-Dix. “We were steady late, and have been that way all year around. We had to pick our poison on defense so we decided to take out their shooting guard (Taylor) as much as we could.”
On the night, Tinsley led the Saints with 17 points and four assists. Jayla Davis had 13 points. Taylor finished with six points and two blocks. Jovia Winkey had four steals. Seirra Smith had 18 rebounds and three blocks.
O’Connell didn’t have anyone in double figures, but had five players with at least seven points. Anna Hovis led with nine points. Janiya Clemmons and Maura Levenoe both finished with eight. Perpignan and Taylor each had seven and the two had seven of their team’s nine fourth quarter points, all of them coming at the free throw line.
The Knights advance to play defending champion Paul VI in the title game on Saturday. For the Saints, in marks the end of some celebrated basketball careers between Taylor, Tinsley and Mailynn Steppe. All three will play collegiate athletics with Taylor and Tinsley going to play basketball at William and Mary and James Madison respectively, and Steppe playing lacrosse at Virginia Tech.
“It’s unfortunate to have things end the way they did but these ladies left it on the court,” Stinnie said. “When you finish any career you want that to be said — win loose or draw, you left it on the court. They can say they did that.”