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LYNN — The No. 1 St. Mary’s girls basketball team started fast and never looked back Monday night, rolling to a 69-37 win over No. 8 Austin Prep in the CCL Cup quarterfinal at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium. The Spartans played relentless defense in the early minutes and allowed only two points in the first quarter before cruising for the rest of the game.
“Toward the end of the season, our energy wasn’t quite where it was when we were playing well,” said St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall. “But we came out tonight and played probably our best game in the past three weeks. We had a great day of practice (Sunday) where we fixed a lot of the things we’ve had issues with this year, and we really put it all together.”
Sophomore Kellyn Preira had a big game to lead the way for the Spartans, finishing with 21 points and four rebounds.
“She’s still a young player, and for someone who hasn’t been in that playoff atmosphere to come out and play a game like that says a lot,” Newhall said of Preira. “She had a great game and she was really attacking the basket all night.”
Senior Alyssa Grossi was close behind with 14 points and five rebounds, while senior Maiya Bergdorf had nine points and three rebounds. Sophomore Yirsy Queliz and freshman AJ Hyacinthe each scored six points in the win.
By virtue of the score, the Spartans were able to get a number of rotational players into the game as well. A total of 14 players checked into the game at some point for St. Mary’s.
“We dressed 14 players and all 14 played at least five minutes, which is huge,” said Newhall. “It speaks to how well our starting unit came out and played to start the game as well. It’s always great to be able to get younger players into playoff atmospheres just to get them exposed to it.”
The Spartans couldn’t have gotten off to a better start in this one, jumping out to a 25-0 lead before Austin Prep could even record a basket. After taking a 29-2 lead into the start of the second quarter, St. Mary’s stretched its lead to as many as 34 points before halftime. The Spartans extended that lead to 40 points in the third quarter before cruising to an easy victory.
St. Mary’s (18-3) will take on No. 4 Archbishop Williams Wednesday (6) in the CCL Cup semifinal.
“We;ve played them twice this year and we’re very familiar with them, and we know it’s going to be one of the toughest games of the year,” said Newhall. “They’re a great program and they’re well-coached, so we’re going to need to have a good day of practice (Tuesday) and be ready to go Wednesday night.”