By Dylan Butler
GLENS FALLS — Facing an Our Lady of Lourdes girls’ basketball team ranked No. 4 in the country, St. Francis Prep coach Tom Finn knew he had to gamble if the Terriers had a chance to win the state Federation Class B championship game.
So Finn rolled the dice defensively, sacrificing the perimeter to stop the Lady Warriors inside. And for two and half quarters, the gamble paid off as the Terriers led 29-24 with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
But then Lourdes, who trailed just four times in the second half this year, got hot from outside, hitting three consecutive three-pointers to close out the third quarter to ignite a 16-3 run en route to a 53-45 victory Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Lady Warriors celebrated their fourth straight Class B crown while it was St. Francis Prep’s third straight loss in the B title game, including a 78-51 defeat last year.
“Last year we lost pretty badly,” said St. Francis Prep senior Erin White, who scored a game-high 18 points, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. “We came in hoping to give them a game and this is a big accomplishment for us. Even to be up a couple of points is big for us.”
Being close is something some thought was impossible for the undersized and undermanned Terriers. After all, Our Lady of Lourdes (27-1) — which defeated nationally ranked teams Christ the King and Narbone (Calif.) — has Miss New York State Basketball in Villanova-bound Jenna Viani, a huge frontline, including 6-foot-3 Kelly Roche, and the likelihood of five Division I players in its starting lineup.
Meanwhile, St. Francis Prep (21-8) fields a team that has just one Division I player in point guard Dawn Gorynski (Lehigh University) and after 6-foot Caitlin Kennedy, not one of the remaining six players are taller than 5-foot-9.
“They’re a very diverse team. They can get inside and their big girls can shoot outside, too,” said Gorynski, who finished as St. Francis Prep’s all-time leading scorer with 1,346 points. “We tried to make them put shots in the basket and for a while the zone worked for us. But they’re a very talented group.”
While the Terriers effectively limited Lourdes’ inside game, the Lady Warriors stopped Gorynski’s ability to slash to the basket. Gorynski finished with 13 points, but none were on her patented bursts through the lane.
With one less offensive weapon to go to, St. Francis Prep was forced to rely on its perimeter game even more than usual.
Queens College-bound White nailed back-to-back threes and Kristina Koncewicz (nine points) added another late in the second quarter as the Terriers went into the break trailing 24-19. On another pair of three-pointers by Koncewicz, St. Francis Prep capped a 10-0 run to take a 29-24 lead with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
“We’ve been bombing all year because we don’t have a lot of size,” Finn said. “We’re undersized and undermanned, but they played as hard as they can. I’m very proud of them.”
On Gorynski’s second three-pointer of the game, the Terriers led 31-27 with 3:11 left in the third quarter, but Julianne Viani (16 points), game-MVP Jenna Viani (15 points, six assists) and Kristin Vilardi all answered with consecutive long balls to put the Lady Warriors ahead 36-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
Our Lady of Lourdes extended its lead to nine before White nailed her fourth three-pointer of the game, cutting the Terriers’ deficit to 43-37 with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter. But then Julianne Viani connected from beyond the arc and Roche added a pair of free throws as Lourdes went ahead by 11, 48-37, with 2:18 left.
“Bench senior Natalie Serkowski came in and started throwing these 100-mph skip passes and we got some open looks at threes,” said Lourdes head coach Brian Giordis. “We’re a very good three-point shooting team and we just started to take what they gave us.”
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.