Crusaders earn senior night win over St. Mary’s

St. Mary's Gabby Torres (left) defends Fenwick's Sammi Gallant during Friday's game. (Owen O'Rourke)

DANVERS — The Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team put a solid effort together in all phases of the game to earn a 44-33 win on senior night over Catholic Central League rival St. Mary’s Friday at St. John’s Prep.

“We definitely had a great effort from everyone,” Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis said. “We played really well as a team tonight. We have had some lapses all season in who’s playing well and playing tough, but I think we all played well tonight. That’s how you win games.”

Sammi Gallant led the way for the Crusaders, leading all scorers with 23 points while hauling in six rebounds. Sophomore Liz Gonzalez also had a solid game with seven points and seven rebounds.

“Sammi is just unreal,” DeBaggis said. “She does everything. She plays defense, can drive, shoot, she’s the best communicator on the court and the best teammate. She is just a big game player. I’ve coached some really good players and her season right now is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Spartans had a solid night defensively, but struggled to create offense from the start.

“I think our frustration on offense hurt us,” St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall said. “When you’re not making shots it just kind of disrupts things. We got into some combinations and tried some different things to get offense going and really nothing worked tonight.

“A lot of the shots that we missed tonight, those were the shots that had gotten us to this point in the season,” Newhall added. “We haven’t lived and died by the three but we’re struggling a little bit right now to make some shots. I thought early on in the game we had a great opportunity to really put some distance between us and them and we just didn’t.”

Pamela Gonzalez led the Spartans with nine points and eight rebounds.

Olivia Matela hit an early 3-pointer to put the Spartans ahead 3-0, but Gallant responded with two baskets for the Crusaders to tie the game at 4-4 midway through the first quarter.

From there both teams kept pace with each other. After three lead changes in the second quarter, Finola Corcoran made a nice play for a steal and score in transition and Olivia DiPietro added a pair of free throws to help put Fenwick ahead 18-16. Elizabeth Pica added a basket at the buzzer to give the Crusaders a 20-16 lead at the half.

Yirsy Queliz hit a quick 3-pointer to open up the second half for the Spartans but Gallant answered with a deep three of her own. From there the Crusaders took all the momentum, pushing their lead up to 33-20, thanks to seven third quarter points from Gallant.

With just over two minutes to play the Spartans buckled down on defense and forced a few turnovers to get back in the game. St. Mary’s cut the Crusaders lead to seven, but Gallant came through again and made three free throws to seal the game for Fenwick.

“The message was just to stay calm and stay tough,” DeBaggis said of the closing minutes. “There is only really one way to beat a press like that when they were trying to get back in the game by running and trapping against us. We had to stayed spaced and stay tough. They really zoned in on Sammi there so other people had to step up with the ball. It was team effort to step up and finish that game.”

Both teams are back on the court Sunday. The Crusaders (9-8) take on Revere while the Spartans (12-6) hope to end a three-game slide against Saugus.

“We’ve lost three games in a row and that’s obviously not what you want,” Newhall said. “I think that the effort is there and that we are very coachable. We are trying we just a need to hit some shots and get some confidence.”

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