Boston High School: Kayla Papazian

Div. 3 Girls: Abp. Williams 46, Coyle-Cassidy 44

March, 6, 2012
(Video courtesy of Eric Esteeves)

BROCKTON, Mass. -- Archbishop Williams' Sara Ryan watched as her layup clanked off the front of the rim, then exhaled when sophomore Leah Spencer swooped in from the backside, and floated in the rebound for a go-ahead score against Coyle-Cassidy with 15 seconds left.

And for those final 15 ticks, Ryan was on pins and needles. For the first time since stepping on the TD Garden floor two years ago for the Division 3 Eastern Mass Championship, she said, "my heart was beating out of my chest."

"Literally," she added. "It was so nerve-wracking. But we kept it together."

The Bishops came out of the ensuing timeout and thwarted Coyle from getting a decent look in either of their two final possessions, stuffing a would-be layup at one end and funneling the ballcarrier into a sideline trap at the other end, with some help from Ryan. The Bishops (20-5) held on for a 46-44 comeback victory over the Warriors before a capacity crowd at Massasoit Community College, avenging last year's Division 3 South final loss and punching their ticket to return trip in the process.

"It's happened before, where we've come back and won," Ryan said. "We never let our heads down. The fans are crazy, we never let them get to us. We do what we have to do."

Ryan (11 points, three steals, two blocks) tied it up at 44-all with three minutes to go, snatching an inbounds pass in the corner deep in Coyle (20-2) territory and dishing to a wide-open Spencer charging the lane.

For the next 2:45, neither team could manage a point, not even a free throw. Instead, the raucous crowds were treated to forced turnover after first turnover, neither team allowing the other much in the way of good approaches to the basket.

Archies head coach Jim Bancroft called a timeout with 1:24 to play. Out of that, Michaela Flanagan swung behind a screen to the top of the key and launched a three-point shot that rolled in and then out.

Coyle's Tricia Quinn was there for the rebound, but down at the other end the Warriors ran into more trouble. Andreya DeSousa lost control of her dribble in front of an Archies defender, but caught a break when a jump ball was called, keeping possession at Coyle's end. But with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, Quinn was forced to heave up an off-balance three-point attempt from the left wing.

Kayla Papazian scooped up the ball at the weakside post and tossed it off to Ryan, who came dribbling up the middle of the court as the Bishops set up for an isolation. Ryan rolled around a screen on the right wing, drove in between two Coyle defenders and tried to kiss the glass with a right-handed layup, only to see it pop off the front iron.

Luckily Spencer (11 points, nine rebounds), who had just cut across to the left elbow on the clearout, was in good position for the put-back from the weak side.

"I was thinking, she might miss it, so I had to be in there for the rebound," Spencer said. "I was in the right place at the right time."

A timeout was immediately called. Out of it, Quinn was stuffed by 6-foot-2 sophomore Olivia Conrad driving down the left side, resulting in a jump ball, Archies possession, and another timeout called by Bancroft. Spencer was fouled when play resumed, but she missed both her shots.

But the Bishops' bothersome press defense was there to seal the deal. After the inbounds, Coyle's ballcarrier was funneled to the sideline by Ryan, and met with a trap. Coyle was unable to get a last-second shot off.

"We thought we'd be able to wear them down, but they just kept coming back and back," Bancroft said of Coyle. "I've got to give them a lot of credit for playing a tough game."

Quinn, a 6-foot-2 senior, finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in her final game for Coyle. DeSousa led the Warriors with 15 points, while 6-foot sophomore Lindsay Bumila had a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds).

Bishops on the Swarm: Bancroft kidded that on most nights, he waits "too long" to apply full-court pressure. But on this night, trailing 12-7 after one quarter and 21-12 midway through the second, time was of the essence.

"I decided, screw it, we've got to go for it," Bancroft said. "We were down by six, I think, and it didn't feel like we were going to get back in the game unless we put some pressure on them with some trapping. I figured that was the only way we were going to get back into it."

With its combination of length and lateral quickness -- and its depth off the bench in both categories -- the Archies press can be suffocating when applied correctly. With Ryan leading the way, backcourt pressure was intense and immediate, with the junior captain usually picking up the ballcarrier immediately after the inbound, staying on her hip and sealing her off to either sideline.

When they went with a 2-2-1 look, a defender or two often converged on a ballhandler deep in their own end.

Down 37-33 to start the fourth quarter, Ryan quickly evened it up with two quick steals for baskets. By the waning minutes of the fourth, Coyle players were pressured so deep in their territory they were dribbling the ball back and forth along their own baseline.

Just how much do these girls work on that lateral quickness?

"Probably for the whole practice," Ryan said, laughing, with a hint of sarcasm. "Just kidding. But no, we do it a lot. We've got to stay in shape. Games like these, it comes in handy, too."

Up Next: The Bishops will be making their sixth straight appearance in the Division 3 South Final when they face off with Fairhaven on Saturday at UMass-Boston. Archies won the South four years in a row, winning back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008, before bowing out to Coyle in last year's final.

Fairhaven cruised to an easy 56-41 win over Martha's Vineyard in the semifinal immediately preceding Archies' battle with Coyle at Massasoit.

Recap: No. 6 Archies 73, No. 22 St. Mary's 51

January, 9, 2012

LYNN, Mass. — Archbishop Williams’ depth, and length in the frontcourt, were too much for St. Mary’s of Lynn, as the Bishops ran away with a 73-51 victory last night at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.

Sara Ryan filled the stat sheet with 19 points, seven steals, seven assists, six rebounds and four blocks. Kayla Papazian dominated the second half on the interior with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Alana Gilmer added 12 points and three blocks to push the Bishops to 8-1 on the season.

The blueprint for the Bishops this season is to hit their opponents with a steady flow of production from the starting five to a solid core off the bench. Ryan and Papazian have been the clear cut go-to players so far this season -- especially in their 104-point outburst against Bishop Feehan –- and with players like Gilmer, Leah Spencer, Michaela Flanagan and Aidan Duquette all ready to come in compete at a similar level, it makes life a little more difficult on opposing coaching staffs.

“The plan is that we keep going at a steady pace,” said Bancroft. “Hopefully, the opponent can’t keep up with us, but you never know.”

The defending Div. 3 state champions were keeping pace with the Bishops in the first half, but the guests started to treat their hosts rather rudely in the third.

The Bishops used stifling press defense, spearheaded by Ryan, to bolt out on a 15-4 run in the period. Olivia Conrad worked well in the post with three straight assists, one to Spencer and the other two to Papazian.

Ryan stole the ball at half court and went in for a lay-in and she put home another lay-up off the glass after another steal. Ryan then nailed a back breaking 3-pointer to push the lead to 19.

“Not most high school girls can go that deep and really not miss a beat,” said Lady Spartans’ head coach Jeff Newhall.

Bishops Rule the Glass: Bancroft has had plenty of guard-oriented teams during his time as Bishops head coach, but this version has plenty of balance up front.

The Bishops have six players who stand 5-foot-9 or taller, and on this night they owned the glass with a 42-21 advantage. Papazian was best in the second half on the glass with nine of her 10 rebounds. She deposited those offensive boards into easy lay-ins to keep the Lady Spartans from sniffing a comeback of any sorts.

More Time for Jaylen: Jaylen Williams, the Bishops 6-foot-3-inch freshman, is still working her way back into form after tweaking her ankle in the first game, and the youngster got some valuable minutes during the first half.

Williams had her moments as an inside presence as she blocked two shots and forced some awkward looking attempts by the Lady Spartans. She did also show that she is still a freshman and that playing against opponents with more experience and physical strength is something she’ll have to get used to.

“Now she’s participating in practice 100 percent, so now we are working her back into the games,” said Bancroft. “We are trying to get her game going. She’s playing against stronger than her and older than her. We need to get her into the games and hopefully use her a lot more as the season goes along.

Next Player Up for St. Mary's: Things have changed for St. Mary’s after the 3-0 start, and after losing Brianna Rudolph to a broken ankle. The Lady Spartans are 5-4 after the loss and looking to right the ship with a cast of younger, but talented players.

“We were getting into a comfort level with our rotation and then she goes down everything kind of changes,” said Newhall. “There’s still an adjustment period for us. On the flip side, playing in this league against this competition is only going to make us better.”

Sophomore Sharell Sanders showed flashes as an up-and-coming point guard for Newhall. She was fearless going to the hall against the much bigger Bishops’ front-line and she showed ranged with two deep 3-pointers.

Sanders finished with 14 points and four steals before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.

“She does play the game as she possibly can,” said Newhall. “She does put tremendous pressure on the ball. She rushes the ball up and her decision making is good most of the times and she’s under a lot of pressure on both ends of the floor.”

Recap: No. 6 Archies 104, No. 8 Feehan 97 (OT)

January, 4, 2012
BRAINTREE, Mass. — If drag-em-out defensive battles are the kind of basketball games that you enjoy watching, then the shootout between Archbishop Williams and Bishop Feehan on Tuesday night was not for you.

The Shamrocks (4-2) nearly came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, as they had a shot to win it on the line in the final seconds of play in regulation, only to see the host Lady Bishops (7-1) walk away with a 104-97 victory in overtime.

Sara Ryan and Kayla Papazian each scored 24 points to dismiss the Shamrocks for the second time this season.

Late rally nearly finished: The Shamrocks really didn’t have any business being in the game the way the Lady Bishops motored up and down the court at will for most of the night. The Shamrocks struggled to deal with the press by the Lady Knights, but they finally cracked it in the fourth quarter thanks to their outside shooting.

Bishop Feehan scored 41 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and nearly turned a 19-point deficit in the final period of regulation into a victory.

“I’m very proud of our girls effort,” said Shamrocks head coach Mike Deady. “This is a very tough place to play. Our girls never gave up and they fought.”

The Shamrocks fell down 89-80 with less than two minutes on the clock, but they kept firing away. Sierra Schrader swished a 3-pointer, and after a forced turnover, Cara Adams drained a corner deep ball to cut the lead to a single bucket.

“They have the 3-point shooters that can get them right back into the game,” said Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft. “They can pressure the ball and get some steals. It’s what they did.”

Providence-bound guard Lexi Sells, who scored a game-high 28 points, gathered an offensive rebound and connected off the glass to get within 1. After the Lady Bishops missed the front end of the 1-and-1, Schrader was fouled with an opportunity to win the game at the line.

Her first free throw was good, and her second one went off the rim, but it was deflected out of bounds by a Archies player. Marissa Cicchetti’s open look from distance was off the mark to send the game into overtime.

A Closer Emerges: Bancroft put Ryan right in the fire as the point guard of the Lady Bishops during her freshman year, and two years later she is starting to show the talents that she clearly possesses as the leader of this team.

Ryan added eight steals and nine assists to go with her 24 points, and had the ball in crucial moments in the extra session.

“She had her freshman year to learn and sophomore year to learn,” said Bancroft. “She learned by her mistakes and she’s a lot more confident. If anybody is going to have the ball it’s going to be her.”

Ryan scored the first four points of overtime and added six in the period. She continually took the ball to the hole and Papaziani (11 rebounds) was able to get in good rebounding position to clean up around the bucket to push the lead to 97-91.

“They trust me,” said Ryan. “I have confidence in all of them and they have confidence in me. It’s what a team does.”

The Shamrocks would do their best to claw back with a pair of late 3-pointers, but the early rush by Ryan and the offense was enough to hold on to the lead this time in the waning moments of overtime.

Coyle rallies to capture D3 South title

March, 12, 2011
BOSTON -- Missy Perry took a kick-out pass from her Coyle-Cassidy teammate Andreya Desousa, knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing and uppercut the air with both fists as the student section behind her erupted.

Then her Archbishop Williams defender threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, and Coyle's Tricia Quinn nailed a long two from the top of the key off a dish from Brenna Gonsalves. Two possessions later, Perry took a long outlet pass off DeSousa's board, stopped and pivoted underneath the rim and dished across the lane to Gonsalves for a 65-60 lead.

A few flicks of the wrist, and the momentum in this Division 3 South girls final at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center capsized in a snap. The Warriors trailed Archie's 49-40 headed into the final frame, but with 14 points from the Adelphi-bound Gonsalves and eight big boards from Quinn, they rallied furiously to win going away, 70-63.

"I looked up, and all of a sudden it was a two-point game (trailing 60-58), you don't realize it because you're such in the flow of the game," smiled Coyle head coach Mike O'Brien. "That's just a lot of credit to them. They work hard. What we did, the little things we've talked about all year long -- making free throws, rebounding, boxing out -- the really simple stuff really played out for us. And we had a couple big shots, of course."

Indeed, this was about all the little things adding up. Sure, Gonsalves (32 points, six rebounds, three assists) was her usual all-everything self for the Warriors, going 5-for-7 from the field and 4 of 6 from the line in the final frame to lead the comeback -- "She's tough to stop," said Bishops head coach Jim Bancroft. But early on, they struggled with the brute strength of Archie's post players, particularly Alex Dean, Kayla Papazian, and 6-foot-1 freshman Olivia Conrad.

Combating the stout lower-body strength of the Bishops' forwards forced an economy of motion out of the 6-foot Quinn, a mentality that ultimately paid off in the final frame with eight boards. She finished with 14 rebounds to go along with 14 points.

"I really just focusing on paying attention to where my feet were on the floor, and making sure I was inside of them," Quinn said.

Gonsalves couldn't be happier for her teammates' mettle in the waning minutes.

"It was a matter of going out there and playing with heart, and just playing as hard as we possibly could," Gonsalves said. "I think everyone stepped up, so that's what got us the win. Everyone played with heart, everyone played their role perfectly."

The Warriors led by as much as 12 before the Bishops finished out the half on a 12-3 run to trail, 34-30. They continued the momentum in the third quarter, opening with a 12-0 run, to lead 49-40 headed into the final frame.

But the good fortune turned costly late in the third quarter, when Papazian drew blood from the top of her head after taking a foul off the rebound. The senior captain was relegated to the bench the rest of the game, barking out words of encouragement to her teammates.

"It was big for us," Bancroft said of losing Papazian who had eight boards. "She's our leader on the court, leader off the court, and she gives the kids encouragement. She gives them focus. She communicates. So that hurt us a lot."

Sophomore Sara Ryan led the Bishops with 18 points, while Conrad added 12.