WORCESTER, Mass. -- St. Mary’s captured their fist Division 3 State championship on Saturday with a 64-54 win over Lee High School, taking home its first state title since winning Division 4 in 2002.
Spartans seniors Cassi Amenta (16 points, five rebounds) and Tori Faieta (12 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) established their inside game early and the Spartans came away with a 10 point victory.
“We knew coming in that we had to get the ball inside," St. Mary’s head coach Jeff Newhall said of his team’s game plan. “Cassi and Tori played really well in there, and Kristen (Ferrari) gave us some balance up top.”
“This trophy doesn’t just symbolize this one win, it’s a culmination of all the hard work," Faieta said of the work her team put in this season, “It feels really good. I haven’t really processed it yet.”
St. Mary’s (24-4) came out on an 8-2 run to open the game and had a 15-9 lead after the first quarter thanks to six early points from Amenta.
“We knew we had a height advantage, so we just made sure we stay with our girl and get our high low passes," Amenta said. “The guards did such a good job, Kirsten (Ferrari) is an amazing point guard. She did really good to deal with the pressure, and the freshmen that came in did an unbelievable job.”
Lee (24-2) started the second quarter second on a 7-2, while the Spartans had Faieta on the bench. But once she made her return to the floor, the game tilted back in the Spartans favor with 6-foot-2 senior controlling the offense with six points and four assists in the half for a 33-20 Spartans lead at halftime.
The game seemed out of reach for Lee, with a 55-36 Spartans lead with 5:36 left in regulation. But the Wildcats kept their press going strong and with 41 seconds remaining they had cut it to an eight point game. Ferrari (16 points, 5 assists), a senior guard, hit four clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the game as St. Mary’s held on for the victory.
“I think we wore them out in the third quarter and fourth, but you can’t beat the height.” Lee head coach Gary Wellington said. “But our kids are not going to quit, we knew the task at hand, we knew St. Mary’s was a great team, a great group of kids, and this was their time. If we were going to take it from them we had to do all the little things right”
Sophomores Eileen Dooley and Stephanie Young had 14 points each to lead the Lee Wildcats in scoring. Dooley also added seven steals on the day.
“Eileen played her heart out, she’s got two more years, you’re going to hear a lot from her, she’s a kid that doesn’t have quit in her bones.” Wellington said of his 5-foot-2 guard.
“The thing that’s kind of been common for us the last three games is we have a lead, and then at the end of the game when the other team is in desperation mode, we haven’t really slowed down as much as I’ve wanted to” Newhall said of Lee’s late surge. “I think Lee deserves a tremendous amount of credit, to get back to this point from where they were, state champs a year ago, and lose their best five games in and come back to the State Championship Game and play the way they did, they deserve a lot of credit too.”