Kellenberg’s Clare Calabro had one thought before overtime.
“Play clean,” the junior guard said.
She could have also said: play great.
Calabro scored six points as the Firebirds’ scored the first eight points of the extra session, and held off a tough St. John the Baptist, 68-63, in the CHSAA girls basketball Class A final before a crowd of 700 at St. Joseph’s College Tuesday night.
Calabro ended up with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists, and was named the championship game’s MVP.
“Clare had some big baskets and free throws,” Kellenberg coach Matt Kirk said. “She helped settle us down.”
The settling down part came because St. John the Baptist (16-6) rallied from a 12-point hole in the second half and forced overtime after a wild fourth quarter. Kellenberg senior center Morgan Staab picked up her fourth foul early in the fourth and spent stretches on the bench. She still finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, and senior guard Alyssa Boll added 10 points for Kellenberg (12-7).
“I was frustrated,” said Calabro about the Cougars’ comeback. “But we kept our composure and kept working as a team.”
Calabro (six) and Staab accounted for the first eight points of overtime as Kellenberg led 62-54. The Cougars answered on a jumper and two free throws by Cara McCormack as St. John the Baptist trailed 62-58 with 1:08 left.
The Cougars freshman guard was phenomenal with 28 points, but fouled out on the next possession with 58.6 seconds left. In a touching moment, McCormack was hugged by coach Kate Gordon as she made her way to the bench.
The Cougars would claw within 66-63 on a three-pointer by Colleen Conway with 26.3 seconds left, but would get no closer. Jennifer Gaffney added 17 points for the Cougars.
“Cara McCormack is one outstanding guard,” Kirk said. “I told Coach Gordon after the game that game planning for McCormack the next three years is going to be a pain in the butt.”
Kellenberg now prepares for a state CHSAA semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Holy Trinity.
“This feels so good,” Staab said. “We’re confident going into the semifinals.”
Friars win ‘AA’. St. Anthony’s Kayla Robinson earned MVP honors with 15 points as St. Anthony’s defeated a gritty St. Mary’s, 48-45, in the CHSAA girls basketball Class AA final.
Lauren Hackett had 13 points and Maia Moffitt added 12 points for the defending ‘AA’ champ St. Anthony’s (15-1), which won despite being outscored 13-0 in the third quarter.
St. Mary’s (14-3), in its first year at the ‘AA’ level, was led by Kadaja Bailey, who had 21 points.