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LYNN — It’s safe to say the St. Mary’s girls basketball team’s right where it wants to be midway through the season.
Friday night at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium, Maiya Bergdorf carried the Spartans through the first three quarters and Olivia Matela added the finishing touches in an 89-64 Catholic Central League win over defending Division 4 state champion Cathedral.
St. Mary’s improved to 10-1 and is two wins away from clinching a spot in the Division 3 North state tournament.
“We’re playing very good basketball,” St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall said after his team’s 10 consecutive win. “We’ve been playing like this for the better part of a month. We went to Hoosac and played similar to this against Nauset last week. Did I think we’d score 89? Probably not. But the kids have played great. I’m not surprised at how well they played.”
Bergdorf led all scorers with 32 points, hauled in 17 rebounds and shot 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Matela, who netted five 3-pointers, carried the baton during the closing stretch and finished with 23 points.
“We had three kids out with the flu,” Newhall said. “Maiya didn’t feel particularly great this morning. But she’s a gamer. Good players play great in big games. She opened up the whole game for us. They were doubling down on Maiya in the second half. Olivia was wide open and she caught more than fire.”
While the final score might indicate the Spartans coasted to victory, they didn’t. Cathedral gave the Spartans a battle, as expected, through the end.
“The margin was 25 but it wasn’t a 25-point game,” Newhall said. “But let’s face it, in the league the game was bigger for us than it was for them. If we lose, we’re basically out of it. We’re two games out, Cathedral’s undefeated and Williams has one loss. We win, now it’s a three-way tie. There’s a lot more at stake for us within the league and playing at home, and I think that may have been a factor as well.”
Cathedral ran out to a rapid 7-2 edge in the opening quarter behind baskets from Ariana Vanderhoop and Ciana Gibson, and Gibson’s 3-pointer. Mackenzie Daleba’s 3-point play midway through the quarter cushioned Cathedral’s lead to 14-6 but the Spartans raced back. Gabby Torres (12 points) swished a 3-pointer and Matela followed with a hoop, closing the gap to 16-14. Bergdorf’s 3-point play gave St. Mary’s a 17-16 edge. The Panthers reclaimed the lead, 19-18, heading into the second quarter.
Pej’ae Parent’s basket, combined with another from Matela, put the Spartans up 22-19 to start the second quarter. St. Mary’s built its lead to eight, 36-28, on Bergdorf’s jumper and led by as many as 11, 40-29, before the Panthers closed the half on Gibson’s free throws.
It was all Spartans in the second half.
Torres connected on a corner 3, padding the lead to 47-33. Matela followed with a 3 of her own, bumping the lead to 50-35. Alyssa Grossi’s jumpshot cushioned it to 17, 58-41. After three quarters it was 61-46 Spartans.
Matela put it out of Cathedral’s reach in the fourth quarter with four 3-pointers, sealing St. Mary’s victory.
“Olivia’s a tremendous shooter,” Newhall said. “She’s shooting around 50 percent on the year from the 3-point line and I’m not talking about 4-for-8, I’m talking like 35-for-70. When she’s open, she sets her feet and she’s very dangerous. She’s a senior, she’s played in a lot of big games and (Friday), maybe more so than years past, we had a lot of big-game experience with our seniors. They played to win as opposed to playing to survive.”
The Spartans play St. Peter Marian Saturday (5:30) at Emmanuel College.