FRESH MEADOWS, NY - The boys had their Brooklyn/Queens Diocese Semifinals on Wednesday, but Thursday night it was girls turn as they had their B/Q semi's, also at St. Francis Prep in Queens. The highlight game saw Bishop Loughlin take on The Mary Louis Academy, while the other game pitted top seed Christ the King against Nazareth.
One game proved to be a nail biter throughout, while the other game saw one team run away with things early on as the Diocese Championship game for Sunday evening is now set as a result. The final looks to be strong, but before we get to the title game, let's look back at the semifinal games on Wednesday.
Bishop Loughlin Clips The Mary Louis Academy, 62-54
Having now reached the championship last year, the Lions were motivated to come out strong in this one, knowing that they were one step away from a major goal. They are a young team still though with a number of juniors being key contributors, but it was a freshman that played the best game of career to date to help propel Bishop Loughlin to the title game.
Coming into the season young freshman guard Laysha de los Santos '19 was thought to be a talented player who would be integral to the success of the Lady Lions for years to come. Her contributions this year have been strong though, being a key secondary piece to Loughlin's success, and junior guard Milicia Reid '17 felt that Wednesday against TMLA would be a game they would need the baby faced youngster.
Reid had de los Santos stay with her last night at her house in the Bronx and she explained to the young guard just what kind of game they would be getting themselves into in a winner go home matchup on Wednesday.
"Laysha stayed with me last night and I was just prepping her because she is just a freshman and she doesn't have that mindset," Reid stated. "I knew though as Laysha was going, we were gonna go."
Everyone had confidence in de los Santos. Loughlin head coach Chez Williams said that he has known her since she was in 4th grade and that he knew that she didn't just have the talent, but the heart as well to come up with a big game in one of the biggest games of the year.
Right from the start you could see that de los Santos was in a zone early on. Banking in her first three of the night, and then following that up with another three from the left wing, and a transition lay up in the open court. Mary Louis was getting a big time opening quarter from guard Jasmine Brunson '16, but it was de los Santos that was carrying her team to an early 20-15 lead.
The Lady Lions had a 7 point lead late in the 2nd quarter when Reid collided with a referee on the court and went down twisting her ankle. She left the game and was tended to by the trainer, and with her on the bench the Hilltoppers were able to get to within 28-26 at the half.
Would Reid be able to return for the 2nd half was the question. Reid said that Williams told her to ice the ankle and that she would be done for the day, but Reid was not going to allow that to happen. She said she could go and could go back out there, and at that point with Williams was ok with it, she was headed back to the court for the second half.
"I was not putting ice on it, I was going back in the game and helping my team get to the championship and no one was going to tell me no," Reid said.
She wanted to be a warrior for her team and do whatever she could to help her team's chances at getting to the at B/Q Championship Game, so for the start of the 3rd quarter there was Reid on the court. She was running with a noticeable limp when running, but she made sure she said to not show it on her face, wanting her teammates to know she was 100% there and ready for them.
The Mary Louis Academy though had other ideas as they were flying to start the second half on their side as forward Danielle Patterson '17 was finishing at will in the paint, and Brunson was carrying the team with bucket after bucket attacking the rim, the Hilltoppers would eventually take the lead late in the 3rd.
It was a 48-47 lead for TMLA with 5:18 to go in the game and that is when the biggest sequence of the game came. The Lady Lions had the ball and guard Lynette Taitt '17 kicked the ball on the right wing to de los Santos who would send home a big three off glass to give Loughlin back a 2 point lead, and it would be the start of 7 straight points for Bishop Loughlin to put them up for good.
Quite the spot for a freshman to hit what could easily be described as the biggest shot for Bishop Loughlin of the year, but de los Santos was ready. It doesn't matter in her mind if she is shooting the ball well or not, she is always ready to hit that shot, and even in a pressured situation such as this, she knew the ball was going in.
"I am confident in my shot no matter what," de los Santos said. "If I do miss I just get back on defense and wait until I get the ball again on offense, and when I do I believe that shot will go in."
The confidence in her shot paid off as she drained the big bucket which propelled the Lady Lions on from there. Reid was dished out passes to the likes of Taitt and Skydajah Patterson '16 inside as well, playing through the pain like the champion that she is.
Brunson wouldn't let TMLA go away, but Loughlin was just able to come through late when they needed to the most as after the big trey from de los Santos they never trailed again as the Lady Lions finished the game on a 15-6 run to come away with an impressive 62-54 win over a talented and tough Hilltoppers team.
de los Santos scored a game high, and a season high for her, 21 points, while Taitt added 12, and Reid posted a triple-double with 12 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds in one of the more complete performances you will find.
It was a performance from Reid that really deserves credit as she admitted that she was in pain, but she pushed through and put together a performance that demonstrates just what she is willing to do to lead her team to a title.
The Hilltoppers may have lost, but they got 28 points in defeat from Brunson who has officially played her last game in a Mary Louis uniform, but the Minnesota bound guard had a game and a high school career that she can be very proud of, while Patterson still has another year for the Jamaica Estates school and had 19 points as well in the semifinal loss.
The win now advances Bishop Loughlin to Sunday's CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocese Championship Game to be played at St. John's Prep, but on Wednesday Williams just wanted to celebrate the achievement of winning their semifinal game here because it's an achievement he feels is rightly deserves for his hard working group of Lady Lions.
"I love when my kids work hard and get the reward for working hard and that is what happened today."
Christ the King Smashes Nazareth, 69-43
Right from the start this one was all Christ the King as the Royals jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead in the opening 3 minutes and from there they rolled the rest of the way to a big 26 point victory.
The Royals played great defensively in the opening half limiting Nazareth to 13 points as CK took a 35-13 lead at the break.
To Nazareth's credit they never quick even being down at points by 30+ points with Jasmine Murray '16 doing a strong job inside, and Emily Brown '17 hitting some big threes late, but in reality it was a dominating performance and effort by the Royals in one of their most complete outings of the season.
The star trio of Kaela Kinder '16, Sydney Zambrotta '16, and Dominique Toussaint '16 each had impressive outings scoring 16 points, 15 points, and 13 points respectively to lead Christ the King to the 69-43 win and set up what should be a great title game on Sunday between the Royals and the Bishop Loughlin Lady Lions for the Brooklyn/Queens Championship.