By William Hernandez
When the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls’ basketball playoffs began Feb. 27, some probably thought why even bother. Just let Christ the King and St. Francis Prep battle it out for the fourth consecutive year.
As expected, the Royals and Lady Terriers each advanced to the Brooklyn/Queens championship game Saturday at 5 p.m. at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.
Christ the King (22-2) will be seeking its 19th straight Brooklyn/Queens title.
In order for St. Francis Prep (20-7) to stop that impressive streak, the Lady Terriers will have to play the kind of defense they displayed in their 48-38 semifinal victory over Bishop Kearney (16-11) Sunday at St. Francis College. The Lady Terriers used a punishing interior defense that forced the Tigers to rely on their outside shooting to win the game.
The reason for coach Tom Finn’s brand of defense is simple: height disadvantage.
“Just about everyone we play, we have a height disadvantage,” Finn said. “So what we do is try to capitalize on our speed.”
Leading 25-20 at the start of the third quarter, St. Francis Prep tightened its defense even more. The Lady Terriers’ man-to-man defense constantly turned Bishop Kearney’s turnovers into points. That led to a 42-29 fourth quarter lead that the Tigers could not overcome.
“That kind of effort has worked 20 times for us,” Finn said.
Another effort that has worked well for the Lady Terriers has been that of senior point guard Dawn Gorynski. Entering Sunday’s game, the Bayside native needed nine points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,259 points.
With 1:58 remaining in the first half, a three-pointer put her over the mark at 1,260 points. She finished the game with 23 points.
Personal achievements aside, the one thing that Gorynski hasn’t done is beat Christ the King. A win Saturday would be a nice departing gift before she leaves for Lehigh University next fall.
“Obviously a victory for me would mean so much to me,” Gorynski said. “It would make my year, but we’re just going to go out and do what we’ve done all year.”
It might take a little more than what the Lady Terriers have done all year to beat the Royals.
Despite playing somewhat of a sloppy game, Christ the King defeated The Mary Louis Academy 72-40 in the second semifinal game of the afternoon.
It was the third time this season that Christ the King defeated the Hilltoppers by 30 points or more. That may have led to some uninspired play for the Royals, according to coach Bob Mackey.
“When you beat a team twice by 50 points during the year, it’s difficult to get up for,” Mackey said.
Mackey saw this problem coming after the Royals’ practice Saturday. A lackluster practice led to a sloppy first half performance that had Christ the King leading by 13 points, 35-22, at the half against Mary Louis (13-13).
“I kind of knew after practice yesterday that this wasn’t going to be an inspired effort,” Mackey said. “The only way to win in March is to play inspired basketball.”
Fortunately for Mackey, the Royals played a better second half led by Corinne Turner (20 points) and Shay Doran (10 points).
“We played a much better second half and hopefully we got it out of our system and now we come back [on Saturday],” Mackey said.
St. John’s Prep 48, Xavier 45. Starla White had 13 points and Amy Masciall added 11 points, including eight of St. John’s 11 fourth-quarter points to lead the Red Storm (17-5) into the Brooklyn/Queens Division II championship game Saturday at 1 p.m. at St. Francis College.
Reach contributing writer William Hernandez by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.