The buzzer sounded, officially crowning the Friars league champions. Yet Maia Moffitt and her teammates didn’t hug one another. They didn’t scream in celebration. They didn’t take selfies with the plaque.
They simply applauded.
“This feels like a regular game,” said Moffitt, who had a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds to lift top-seeded St. Anthony’s to a 79-51 win over No. 2 St. Mary’s Tuesday night in the CHSAA league championship game at Hofstra. “A state championship is our ultimate goal.”
As it’s been since the Friars stepped on the court for their first practice of the season. Around that time, St. Anthony’s coach Ken Parham said, despite having five seniors who have committed to Division I programs, it was Moffitt who might be his best all-around player.
The junior guard showed why Tuesday night, attacking the basket off the dribble and hitting outside shots en route to earning MVP honors. She scored 11 points during a 22-3 run that carried from the second quarter into the third to blow open the game.
Kadaja Bailey hit a runner and Lily Rakitzis hit a three to pull St. Mary’s within 23-22 with 4:16 left in the half. Moffitt answered with a layup in transition plus the foul, but missed the free throw. She then intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for the layup. That was the first of 16 unanswered points for St. Anthony’s, capped by Etalyia Vogt’s three and Sarah Edmond’s putback, giving the Friars a 39-22 advantage.
Bailey’s three from 30 feet at the buzzer cut St. Anthony’s lead to 39-25 heading into the break. Moffitt opened the third with two quick layups, and Vogt followed with a jumper to increase the lead to 45-25.
“It’s a really good thing that we have a lot of key players on our team because if one is off another steps up to help our team,” Moffitt said. “Today was just me. Tomorrow it will be Sarah. The next day it will be Etalyia, Jayla . . . ”
And so on.
Taylor Goode had 10 points, Vogt added eight points and seven assists, and Edmond had eight points and nine rebounds. Jayla Jones-Pack, in foul trouble early, scored all 11 of her points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds. The senior forward was named CHSAA player of the year after the game, but still was rather reserved.
“It’s not that we’re not that excited, we just have business to handle,” she said. “We know what we can do so hopefully now that we won Long Island, the next step is states.”
Bailey had 19 points and Tamia Cutignola scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half for St. Mary’s.
St. Anthony’s (23-3) plays Christ the King in the CHSAA Class AA state semifinals on March 11 at 5 p.m. at St. John Villa Academy in Staten Island. Now that the Friars are two wins away from their ultimate goal, what might their celebration look like if they do win the state title?
“Oh,” Moffitt said, “much bigger than this one.”