LYNN, Mass. -– Trailing 41-36 heading into the fourth quarter St. Mary’s head coach Jeff Newhall knew that he needed a collective effort from his team to overcome a young and talented Ipswich Tigers squad.
Led by junior all-tournament team selections Brianna Rudolph and Jennie Muscciarone (24 points), St. Mary’s (19-2) overcame the five-point fourth quarter deficit to come back and win 59-53 and capture the 2013 Spartan Classic Division 3 championship.
“It is no perfect science,” Newhall said. “We willed ourselves to a win in the fourth quarter. It is probably our best win of the year.”
Rudolph, the D3 Spartan Classic MVP, exploded in the final quarter of play to help take lead the Spartans to the win. She scored eight of her 16 points and grabbed six of her nine rebounds in the fourth quarter alone.
“I think rebounding was the most important,” Rudolph said. “We rebounded well and played tough defense and imposed our will to win.”
After trailing 14-10 after the first quarter Ipswich took control of the pace of the game as their zone defense frustrated St. Mary’s and gave Ipswich (16-3) a 24-20 advantage at the half.
Ipswich sophomore point guard Masey Zegarowski was brilliant in the opening half as she scored 13 of her game-high 26 points and was instrumental setting the pace of the game.
Zegarowski’s aggressive style of offense resulted in early foul trouble for St. Mary’s and their own star point guard Sharell Sanders.
St. Mary’s battled foul difficulty the entire game with Sanders and forward Gianna Moschella both getting in early foul trouble before both eventually fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“She played the whole second half without having to come out,” Newhall said of Sanders. “She made some adjustments in her game but that is how she plays, up in your face and aggressive.”
It was Sanders’ aggressive defense and clutch shooting from Rudolph, Mucciarone and freshman guard Kayla Carter that helped St. Mary’s complete the victorious fourth quarter comeback.
“I think we are coming together very well at the end of the season,” Rudolph said. “These are probably our best couple of wins this year.”
Zegarowski led all scorers on the night with 26 points to go with three steals and three assists. Ipswich also received a strong game from senior forward Julia Davis (nine points, 14 rebounds).
“They are an excellent team,” Newhall said. “We have had a tough stretch here, playing four out of the last five nights against four league champions. We went 3-1 and only lost to Archbishop Williams by three. Situations like this and games like this are only going to make us better in the future.”
Masey Zegerowski dazzles: The sophomore point guard impressed all in attendance on Monday night as she showed off one of the quickest first steps in the state to go with a lethal complimentary pull-up game.
The daughter of Ipswich head coach Mandy Carter-Zegarowski and sister of Syracuse University point guard and former St. Andrew's School (R.I.) star Michael Carter-Williams, Zegarowski showed why her star is only on the rise.
“I thought we actually defended her pretty well,” Newhall said of Zegarowski. “She was hitting challenged shots. “When you have a player who can go by you with the right or the left and can also shoot from distance it is very, very difficult to defend.”
Zegarowski was also named to the Spartan Classic All-tournament team.
Spartan Classic Championship Games: Arlington Catholic and Lynn English both won their earlier tournament championship games, defeating Tewksbury and Lexington respectively.
AC took home the Spartan Classic Division 2 title as they defeated Tewksbury 39-16. AC was led by D2 Spartan Classic MVP Maura Buckley (21 points).
Lynn English (20-2) continued their impressive 2013 run as they defeated Lexington 54-34. Lynn English was led by junior forward and D1 Spartan Classic MVP Deidra Newson, who scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and totaled six steals on the night.