Taylor Aybar was too much for St. John the Baptist to handle.
Monsignor McClancy got off to a slow start in its CHSAA Class B girls’ basketball semifinal game. However, after winning the second quarter by 13 points, the Crusaders pulled away behind Aybar’s game-high 24 points for a 63-49 win over the visiting Cougars on March 11. It advances to play Sacred Heart (Yonkers) 1 p.m. today in the final at St. John Villa.
Aybar started the contest by connecting on a three from well beyond the arc. It spearheaded an early 8-2 run. The crafty senior guard dazzled the crowd with her finishes at the rim, especially a layup in the second quarter that she made after freezing the defender with a nifty pass fake.
“I came on the court knowing that today was going to be my last game home,” Aybar said. “I just wanted to play really hard and motivate my team.”
Kaitlyn Stenz added nine points in the Crusaders’ win, but her biggest contribution came on the defensive end. McClancy (23-4) was tasked with defending Bridgette Moran, a tall center that used her height to shoot over the defense, and Stenz turned in an excellent effort.
“I had my teammates and help behind me,” Stenz said. “I know that when I’m fronting the girl that there’s someone behind her to stop her.”
Stenz’s ball denial forced Moran to move away from the basket and take midrange jumpers, lessening the impact of her height advantage.
The Crusaders struggled to pull away, as missed free throws loomed large throughout the second half. At one point, they missed 10 shot from the charity stripe and shot 12-for-30 from the line in the second half, keeping St. John the Baptist in the game. Emily Meyer scored 14 points to lead. St. John the Baptist.
“We put Kaitlyn in our offense, because she could hit free throws,” McClancy coach Dewey Hopkins said. “We just kept telling them to be confident, have fun and do your best to knock them down.”
St. Anthony’s 59, Christ the King 51: Kaela Kinder scored 18 points for Christ the King, which closed to as close as 53-49 with 2:18 left in the CHSAA Class AA semifinals. Dominique Toussaint and Ashlie Howell each tallied 13 points and Sydney Zambrotta. CK turned the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter. Etalyia Vogt paced the Friars with 15 points and center Jaylas Jones-Pack had 12 points and blocked or altered numerous Royals shots.
St. Mary’s (LI) 55, St. Francis Prep 42: Sofia Recupero led St. Francis Prep with 15 points in the CHSAA Class A semifinals. St. John’s-commit Kadajah Bailey paced St. Mary’s with 22 points. The Terriers, who were down just five in the third quarter, committed 18 turnovers.