Shannon Flynn spent the first half of St. Mary's state CHSAA first-round playoff game standing tall against St. Joseph Hill (Staten Island) and the second half sitting impatiently atop the trainer's gurney, ankle wrapped and throbbing.
Flynn lit up the Hilltoppers, scoring 27 points before spraining her ankle with 2:06 left in the third quarter on a drive to the basket that sent her reeling to the floor, as the Gaels defeated St. Joseph Hill, 66-41, Friday night at St. Anthony's. It had all the makings of a Pyrrhic victory as Flynn, who grunted loudly on impact but otherwise remained stoic, had to be escorted off the court. By the end of the game, she was walking without assistance and said she would try to play through the pain.
"It hurts a lot; it's throbbing," Flynn said. "But I'm going to do everything I can to make it better."
Flynn, a senior point guard, has been the Gaels' leading scorer and will likely prove necessary as St. Mary's (17-8) takes on Molloy (Queens) at 6 p.m. Friday in a quarterfinal at Kellenberg.
"It's the last thing you want to happen in a game like this," said St. Mary's coach Tom Flynn, Shannon's father - whose older daughter's playing career was cut short by an ACL injury. "You've got to go on, but my heart was in my throat."
St. Joseph Hill (14-13) kept it close early and ended the first behind only 18-17, thanks to a quarter-ending 8-3 run.
Maddie Jankowski opened up the second by sinking two free throws for the Gaels. A minute later, she hit a jumper from downtown to give St. Mary's a 23-19 advantage. Flynn then took off, hitting two shots from the perimeter for the 10-point cushion. She went 5-for-7 from three-point range. St. Mary's outscored St. Joseph Hill 23-9 in the quarter, highlighted by an excellent transition offense and a nearly unbreakable press.
"We started playing our style of basketball," Tom Flynn said. "We had better passes downcourt and once Shannon starting hitting those threes, it really opened up the court."
The Gaels also received major contributions from Jankowski (11 points) and freshman Alyssa James (11 rebounds and five blocks). James especially has been impressive, Flynn said. This is her first year of organized basketball and she has been a major contributor for a team that lacks size.
"We threw her to the wolves in this league," Flynn said. "But she's more than held her own."
It's a role James will have to become accustomed to, as the Gaels learned all too well how precarious their position can be.
" I'm thinking we're not going to have her next year," James said. "We're going have to learn to play without her."