Sports

St. Mary’s girls move on to state championship game

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 3

St. Mary's huddles together in the paint before the start of their game.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 13

St. Mary's head basketball coach Jeff Newhall looks on during the semi-final game.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 7

St. Mary's Gabriella Torres goes for a layup as Archbishop Williams' Monica Spain tries to stop her.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 4

St. Mary's Olivia Matela shoots a three-pointer over the heads of Williams' Jessica Knight, left, and Bridgette O'Reilly.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 5

St. Mary's fans cheer on the Spartans.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 6

St. Mary's Yirsy Queliz cuts to the paint.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 17

St. Mary's head coach Jeff Newhall looks up at the scoreboard.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 20

St. Mary's fans cheer on the Spartans.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 23

St. Mary's Pamela Gonzalez goes for a layup as William's Lexi Hansen tries to stop her.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 9

St. Mary's Nicolette D'Itria gets around Willams' Tahlia Tah.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 10

St. Mary's Pamela Gonzalez goes for a layup around Williams' Monica Spain.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

St. Mary's fans cheer on the Spartans.

St. Mary's fans cheer on the Spartans.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 14

St. Mary's Gabriella Torres keeps the ball away from Williams' Camille Minor and Monica Spain.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 21

St. Mary's Yirsy Queliz and Williams' Marie McCarthy chase down the ball.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 19

St. Mary's Gabriella Torres shoots a three-pointer over the hand of Williams' Kayley LaCombe.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 15

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 11

The St. Mary's girls basketball team celebrates with the crowd after winning the semi-finals.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 8

St. Mary's celebrates winning the semi-final game in the state tournament.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball

St. Mary's head basketball coach Jeff Newhall embraces his son, Alex, after the Spartans won the semi-finals in the state tournament.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 2

St. Mary's celebrates winning the semi-final game in the state tournament.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 16

The St. Mary's girls basketball team celebrates with the crowd after winning the semi-finals.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 22

St. Mary's fans celebrate the win.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

Williams at St Mary's girls basketball 12

The St. Mary's girls basketball team win the semi-finals in the state tournament game.

(Photo by Spenser R. Hasak)

Purchase Photo

BOSTON — The third time proved to be the charm for the St. Mary’s girls basketball team.

Catholic Central League rival Archbishop Williams defeated the Spartans twice during the regular season — both by double-digit margins. But the Spartans won the one that counted, defeating Williams, 62-59, in Wednesday’s Division 3 state semifinal at TD Garden.

Tied at 59 with 22.1 seconds to play, junior guard Olivia Matela swished the winning 3-pointer from the wing. Williams took the ball with 5.4 seconds to play but the Spartans denied the Bishops a final shot attempt.

“We just played great,” St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall said. “There was a certain degree and we talked about ‘how many times are you going to let them hit you before you actually hit them back?'”

Pam Gonzalez led St. Mary’s with 23 points. Gabby Torres scored 14 points and Matela added 12. Torres and Matela each netted four 3-pointers. The Spartans hit 10 3-pointers in the winning effort.

“We don’t have a ton of size,” Newhall said. “If you look at our lineup in the second half, Pam’s our tallest player. She’s really a guard. But we do have good, quality shooters.”

The win marks St. Mary’s first Division 3 Eastern Mass. title since 2014. St. Mary’s will play Hoosac for the state championship (TBA).

Jessica Knight (game-high 24 points) scored 4 of Williams’ first 6 points, leading the Bishops to a quick 6-1 edge two minutes in. Torres accounted for St. Mary’s first basket on a layup, and caught fire from there. Consecutive hoops from Gonzalez and Yirsy Queliz (7 points) made it a 10-7 Williams lead coming out of a St. Mary’s timeout. Then Torres hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Spartans carry a 20-14 lead the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter highlighted two different styles of attack. St. Mary’s continued to rely on its outside shots, while Williams drove to the basket and did the bulk of its scoring at the free throw line. Torres wowed the crowd with a 3 from the parking lot to put St. Mary’s ahead, 30-24, near the end of the half. But a 5-0 Williams run closed the gap to 30-29 at halftime.

After Matela started the second half with a 3, Williams made a run to regain the lead. Lexi Hansen capped the 9-2 rally with a 3-pointer, giving the Bishops a 38-35 edge midway through the third. Gonzalez shifted momentum back in St. Mary’s favor with the last 5 points of the period. The Spartans led, 46-42, heading into the fourth quarter.

It went down to the wire in the final period. Van Nguyen (3 points) picked the right time to make her mark by converting an and-one with 2:45 remaining. Nguyen’s freebie whittled Williams’ lead down to 55-54.

“During the season Van played predominantly two or three quarters of JV,” Newhall said. “I have to be honest, even in this game it took me two and a half quarters before I got the fortitude to put her in. She’s helped us. In a blowout loss three weeks ago against Fenwick we had no choice but to go to her. I think she gained some real valuable in-game experience that night.”

Williams answered with a bucket before Gonzalez sprinted down the floor and tied the game at 57-57 with her own and-one. With the game tied at 59-59, Matela sent St. Mary’s to the state championship game with her final long shot.

“Olivia’s our best shooter,” Newhall said. “That’s how you win basketball games. Hustle play to get the ball. Dribble, drive and the IQ play is to kick it to the corner. Olivia catches it, she’s ready, puts it up and it goes in.

“Olivia’s around 37, 38 percent for the season for 3. In that NBA, that’s good, never mind high school.”

Now it’s on to Division 3 West champion Hoosac.

“We have one more game,” Newhall said. “We have to go out there and we have to play the way we’ve been playing. It’s great basketball. It’s hard, fast and it’s a refuse to lose mentality. You can’t coach that. We’ve had it and we can’t lose it in the next 72 hours.”

 

More Stories From boston