Rebecca Musgrove already had a lot of motivation entering Sunday's CHSAA title game, but watching the opposing St. Mary's team warm up before tipoff really set her off.
The St. Anthony's senior, recalling the two times St. Mary's beat the Friars earlier this season, read the back of the Gaels players' T-shirts that read '3313 Finish,' marking the date of Sunday's title game with the team's intended goal clearly stated.
Musgrove wouldn't have it.
She had 11 points and 10 rebounds as St. Anthony's beat St. Mary's, 48-36, at LIU Post to win its third consecutive CHSAA title.
"It feels awesome as a senior, getting to leave with a championship and especially against them," Musgrove said. "They had their championship T-shirts on already and when we played in their gym and they beat us, their announcer said they were No. 1 on Long Island, so we had to stop that and prove them wrong and that's what we did today."
St. Anthony's (22-5) will play Archbishop Molloy at St. John Villa on Wednesday in a quarterfinal of the CHSAA AA state tournament. St. Mary's (22-4) will take on Bishop Loughlin on Wednesday at St. Joseph Hill in another quarterfinal.
Musgrove was named the game's MVP and the league's Player of the Year. "That's always been a goal of mine," Musgrove said. "I work hard every day and this year I was recognized for it, so it feels great."
Chastity Taylor, who scored 13 points, was a big spark in the third quarter as St. Anthony's turned a one-point halftime lead into a 39-30 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Taylor was proficient down low, scoring twice on turnaround jumpers in the post, connecting on a midrange baseline jumper and knocking down two free throws. She scored eight of the Friars' 17 points in the third quarter.
"That made me more into the game and everyone else got into it, too," Taylor said. "We knew we had it at that point and just kept pushing."
In the fourth, Musgrove scored five of her 11 points, including a scoop layup that she hit while driving from the right wing to give the Friars a 42-32 lead with 4:57 left.
St. Anthony's led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter at 21-10 with 5:07 left. But Mei-Lyn Bautista (14 points) led St. Mary's on an 11-1 run to get within one points, 22-21, at the half.
"I just told them, 'We had this 10-point lead and we gave it up but we could get it back,' " Musgrove said. "Right after we got up by 10 again, we had to stop them and not let them back into it. It was our game to win."
The Friars' experience ultimately was the difference and carried St. Anthony's to the title. St. Mary's hadn't played for a title since winning it in 1994.
"Definitely being experienced helped. I know the younger kids on my team were nervous but I told them, 'It's just another game. I know they beat us twice but we're going to do it,' " Musgrove said. "And they believed me and we did it."