When a crucial inbounds pass was intercepted, landing in the hands of Kellenberg's Lindsey Ehrhardt with six seconds left in Tuesday night's State Catholic High School Basketball Tournament quarterfinals, there may have been some who were surprised. But not Ehrhardt. She knew exactly where it was going.
"I had an instinct," Ehrhardt said. "I saw the ball going there and I knew I had to go to it to secure the win. I've had this instinct all season. It's just sort of a natural thing that I have. I saw the passer's eyes go over to her big and I went over to intercept it."
Ehrhardt's intuition propelled Kellenberg to a 47-46 win over St. Joseph Sea at St. John Villa Academy in Staten Island. The victory sends the squad to a semifinal matchup with Buffalo Cardinal O'Hara, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.
The game will be a rematch of last year's CHSAA Class A state final in which Cardinal O'Hara topped Kellenberg, 62-59.
Ehrhardt's decidinge play came after St. Joseph made only one of two free throws to keep Kellenberg ahead by one. St. Joseph then knocked an inbounds pass off Kellenberg to keep possession, leading to the inbounds turnover.
St. Joseph Sea missed a heave from just inside half-court as time expired. "It had a chance to go in," said Morgan Staab, who led Kellenberg with nine points. "Everyone stood up and looked at the ball."
The Firebirds ran their record to 18-9. "This team just grinds," coach Matthew Kirk said. "Whether it looks great or it's ugly, we always find a way to wind up with the basketball."
Staab's basket with 2:15 left gave Kellenberg a 47-42 lead, but St. Joseph Sea wasn't finished. Julianna Tritto's three-pointer with 1:30 remaining cut the Kellenberg lead to 47-45.
Katherine Calabro was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass, but then missed her free throws. Instead of letting the momentary disappointment get her down, she stole the ball at mid-court on St. Joseph's next possession.
"After I missed the free throw, I thought the game was over and they were going to come back and score," Calabro said. "But, I knew that I had to get that point back for our team.
Kellenberg led by one entering the fourth quarter, a suggestion that the game might go down to the final moments. "St. Joseph's is a really tough team," said Ehrhardt, who had six points. "Everything that we threw at them, they threw right back. It was just a battle the entire game."