With Emma O'Connor slowed by a severe cold in the first half, Khadijah Donaldson took over. Donaldson had 16 of her 18 points in the first half and the O'Connor had 15 of her 20 points in the second half for top-seeded Kellenberg in a 61-51 win over No. 4 St. Mary's in a NSCHSAA semifinal at C.W. Post.
"We knew they would focus on Emma and I was able to get open," said Donaldson, who shot 8-for-11 from the field. "I got good position and just went up with it."
O'Connor said she was in bed all day Friday and Saturday because of a cold, coughing and chest pains. She was nervous in the morning and wasn't sure how she would feel during the game.
She took just four shots in the first half, but exploded in the third quarter.
"She just took over," Donaldson said. "We thought they would double me in the second half and that would open it up for Emma."
O'Connor scored the first nine points of the third quarter. Shannon Flynn, who had a game-high 31 points for St. Mary’s (16-8), scored with 4:39 to break the run before O’Connor fed Meghan Leap (12 points) for a layup. Flynn hit a jumper and a three-pointer before O’Connor scored. The quarter ended with O’Connor blocking a shot leading to a fastbreak layup for Leap and a 50-38 lead after three quarters. Of the 17 points in the third quarter, O’Connor played a part in 15.
"She was able to come out and suck it up," Kellenberg coach Meghan Moran said. "We came out with a lot of energy and fire in the third quarter."
St. Mary's had 31 points in the first half, including six three-pointers, but just 20 second-half points.
"We played better defense," Donaldson said. "We weren’t boxing out and in the second half we did."
Leap also had a very good game for Kellenberg, which got contributions from everyone.
"Leap played great," O'Connor said. "She became a threat because of her driving and that opened it up for everyone else."
Kellenberg wanted to get Donaldson involved early because of her success the last time it played St. Mary's.
"Last time we played them Khadijah was unstoppable," Moran said. "That was the game plan and everyone else helped out around her."
Flynn did all she could for the Gaels. She had 16 of the team's 20 points in the second half. She hit six three-pointers and went 11-for-20 from the field.
"We didn't do anything our coach said to do," Flynn said of the second half. "They pushed, played their defense and were more aggressive than we were. We didn't execute. We missed a lot of shots. It just wasn't there in the second half."
St. Mary's will play in a CHSAA Class A state first-round game 6 p.m. Friday at St. Anthony's.