Looking down the St. Anthony’s bench at the end of Friday night’s state Catholic Class AA girls basketball semifinals, there were mostly disappointed faces. That comes with losing. However, the Friars have nothing to be ashamed about after suffering a 55-40 defeat against formidable Christ the King at Holy Cross High in Queens.
St. Anthony’s (17-9) got dealt a tough hand in the Royals. Christ the King (24-4), the team to beat in New York State, hasn’t lost an in-state game and has Florida-bound Nina Richards and Minnesota-bound Klarke Sconier and junior Natalija Marshall, who is being pursued by UConn, Duke and Stanford.
But for a long while, the Friars played their own hand well. They were giving up size at virtually every position and thus lived mostly on the three-point line, making a quartet of them in the first half. And they were very much in striking distance, trailing just 27-22 when Aisha Smith opened the second half by driving for a layup.
Things got away from St. Anthony’s quickly, though, in the third quarter, which Friars coach Hugh Flaherty called “a backbreaker.”
The Royals took advantage of a few Friars turnovers for a 13-0 run that broke the game open. They led the Friars 40-22 on Saniyah Glenn’s layup. Smith’s basket was the only one for St. Anthony’s in the quarter, which ended with St. Anthony’s down 48-28
“In the third quarter, we made too many turnovers and it fed their run and it got away from us. We made three on three straight possessions,” St. Anthony’s coach Hugh Flaherty said. “The game should have been closer, though. We missed some chippies in the first half. It might have been a one-point game if we hadn’t.”
Christ the King meets Scanlan, a 58-48 winner over Tonawanda Cardinal O’Hara, in Saturday night’s 7 p.m. title game at Fordham University. The Royals, now on a 20-game winning streak, beat the Crusaders for the city title last week.
Sydney Taylor scored 18 and Smith and Toni Kinard each scored seven for St. Anthony’s. Marshall had 21 points and Glenn, a freshman, had 15 points to pace the Royals.
St. Anthony’s had a last run in it during the fourth quarter. Taylor had six points in an 8-2 run and capped it with a pair of free throws to make it 52-38 with 2:36 to play. The Friars, however, couldn’t make a further dent.
“We did well for a while with the 1-2-2 press, trying to keep the ball out of [Marshall’s] hands,” Flaherty said. “But they are an excellent team — really good. Having three or four Division I players helps.”