The St. Mary's girls basketball team celebrates its victory with...

The St. Mary's girls basketball team celebrates its victory with their fans at the CHSAA Class AA state finals game against Monsignor Scanlan on March 13 at Hofstra. Credit: Dawn McCormick

There’s saying you emphasize playing as a team and there’s actually going out there, sharing the ball and continuously showcasing unselfish basketball. St. Mary’s proved all winter it was the latter.

The St. Mary’s girls basketball team was the seemingly perfect mesh of playstyles. You had Taylor Barbot, a pass-first point guard always looking to find the open teammates. Tara Murray, a knockdown shooter that can space the floor. Cayla Williams, a tough, physical inside presence to control the paint and boards. Alisa Blalock, the energetic senior that can drive the basket, shoot from deep, create for others and causes absolute chaos on the defensive end. Then Taryn Barbot, who could do everything you could ask for in a basketball player.

Put that all together and what do you come out with? A state championship.

St. Mary’s defeated Monsignor Scanlan, 59-42, to win the girls basketball CHSAA ‘AA’ championship at Hofstra March 13. It was the Gaels’ first state title since 1994 when St. Mary’s won the ‘B’ crown.

“I think we all had our parts of the game,” Murray said. “We all knew what we needed to do in order to win. We all took our strengths and put it into the game and communicated. We just always worked together.”

The Gaels were never concerned about individual scoring totals – with the leading scorer often changing each contest. St. Mary’s had four different players score at least 10 points in a 57-46 victory over Cardinal O’Hara in the state semifinals March 11. Taryn Barbot led with 16 points.

“The big thing was the lack of egos,” coach Kevin White said. “They really got along well. They don’t care who is the leading scorer as long as we win. They really looked out for one another.”

Taryn Barbot followed with a dominating state final, finishing with 19 points, 18 rebounds, and six assists. Blalock added 13 points and Murray scored 12 points.

“(Taryn’s) one of the best players around,” White said. “I think she’s taken herself to a pretty high level for colleges where could play.”

Even though this was St. Mary’s first state championship since 1994, the student-athletes believed since the first practice they could win it. St. Mary’s won the league title in 2020 but couldn’t advance to the state tournament due to the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Gaels lost in the league final in 2021.

“We worked really hard for it,” Murray said. “I don’t think anyone thought we were going to (win it) but we knew we were going to just from the work we put in every day at practice.”

And they’ve enjoyed the perks of being state champions ever since.

“The next two weeks at school, everyone was always congratulating us,” Murray said. “Our school made it really special for us. We’re a very smart school … so being able to be in such a big game and have the school come out and support was a really good feeling.”

It’s the feeling the Gaels will continue to chase. St. Mary’s graduates a key piece in Blalock, who was the team’s second-leading scorer. But Blalock was the team’s lone senior with the other four starters returning for their senior seasons.

“I’m going to miss playing with her,” Murray said. “She was a great leader, always pushing everyone hard at practice. Not having her on the court next year is definitely going to be hard because of her energy, but we’re all going to have to step up and take on that role for her.”

But nothing changes in the team’s mindset next winter. The Gaels have eyes on another league and state title, utilizing a team-first mentality.

“Successful and championship teams are the ones that play together focused on the ‘we’ as opposed to the ‘I,’” White said. “That is something we try to preach.”

Gaels’ Road to the Championship

CHSAA championship

Sacred Heart, 50-35

State semifinal

Cardinal O’Hara, 57-46

State championship

Monsignor Scanlan, 59-42

More High Schools