WORCESTER, Mass. -- It ended the way it all began for the St. Mary’s senior class.
They won a Division 3 state basketball title in 2011, their freshman year, and decidedly won another Saturday. It easily dispatched Western Mass. champion Hoosac Valley 74-36 at the DCU Center.
“We knew this was our last game win or lose, so we had to go out and give it our best,” said Brianna Rudolph, one of the team’s three seniors. “So we went out and did all we could do to help this team win a state championship.”
Hoosac came out in a 1-2-2 zone to start the game, but it was not enough to slow down Rudolph. She had 10 of her eventual 26 points in the opening quarter to help her team jump out to a 19-12 advantage.
St. Mary’s kept the pressure on in the second. Rudolph was hitting spot-up jumpers from the baseline, jumpers from just inside the three-point line, and blocking shots on the defensive end. She ended the first half 7-of-9 from the field. Her final stat line was 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
This was a nice follow up performance for Rudolph coming off her 31-point performance Tuesday in St. Mary’s 47-45 state semi-final victory over Archbishop Williams.
“She’s a tremendous basketball player, there’s no question about it,” said St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall of the UMass-Lowell basketball commit. “The big time players really figure what they’re all about in the postseason. She had a 36 (point game), a 31 (point game), and a 26 (point game) today. She had a bad game last Saturday and scored 17. She goes down as the No. 2 scorer in the history of the school, and she missed a year.”
Lost in Rudolph’s performance was that of Sharell Sanders. The 5-foot-1 senior finished with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half. She attacked the basket and came away with 8 rebounds, not letting her size deter her from mixing it up underneath to help her team win.
After finishing the first half up 34-17, the Spartans did not take their foot off the glass. It started the second on a 19-2 run.
Jennie Mucciarone was a catalyst during that stretch. While she only scored 6 points in the game, her passing efficiency opened up opportunities for her teammates.
As she brought the ball up the floor in transition, she would often drive to the hoop as though she was going to keep it herself, but as the post defender slid over and committed to defending her, she split the defense with bounce passes to her teammate on the weak side block.
Gianna Moschella benefited greatly from the transition game. She had 14 of her 16 points in the third quarter and was at times the recipient of Mucciarone’s passes underneath.
Moschella was matched up on Hoosac Valley’s Emily Rosse and held the junior to a single basket in the entire game. Coming into Saturday, Rosse was on the cusp of scoring 1,000 points for her high school career, but that will have to wait until next season.
Madison Ryan was the leading scorer for Hoosac with 10 points.
“They were quicker than we were and certainly did a good job running the floor, finishing,” said Hoosac Valley coach Ronald Wojcik. “We didn’t. We missed some free throws and layups early that probably could’ve kept things a little close early and maybe gone a different way, but it was certainly their game today.”
Hoosac had no answer for St. Mary’s speed and offensive acumen and it ultimately cost them the game.
“When it comes to speed and athleticism, which I knew they had, it’s tough to get a feel for that on tape,” said Wojcik. “You can see it, but unless you experience it firsthand, you wouldn’t know until you walked out on the court.”
The fourth quarter was decided early as St. Mary’s cruised to its second state title in four years with a 38-point victory.
“We finished what we set out to do,” said Newhall. “It was a little anticlimactic at the end. I think we kind of took their hearts in the third quarter with that run to start the half. We play a style that’s fast and in your face. We’ve been listening, quite frankly, all week about how fast they want to play and how they trap and obviously it got to the kids because they didn’t allow themselves to be trapped. They made the extra pass and that’s the most points we’ve scored in quite a while.”