By Robert Cole
Participation in the Hoopers NY Martin Luther King Challenge provided head coach Mike LoCascio an opportunity to get his St. John’s Prep girls’ hoops team some much-needed game experience, as the Red Storm overcame a long fourth-quarter scoreless drought to defeat Woodlands Senior High School of White Plains, 49-38, at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx.
“Today’s game was another learning experience for my team,” LoCascio said. “As we are moving forward in the division, the freshmen are getting more experience, and the juniors are coming together.”
St. John’s Prep faced adversity throughout the game, but the team’s resolve was really tested in the fourth quarter. Going into the final period with a 38-31 lead, the Red Storm went 5:51 without scoring a point, allowing the girls from Woodlands to go on a 7-0 run that tied the score at 38-38 with 3:15 left.
The Red Storm had trouble dealing with Woodlands’s defensive pressure, which led to six turnovers that resulted in the 7-0 run.
LoCascio called a timeout with three minutes remaining, giving his young players a chance to settle their nerves. Prep has a relatively young team built around four freshmen, a junior, and a senior.
“During the timeout, I explained to them that they have to get themselves under control. They were settling for the first shot instead of moving the ball like they were,” LoCascio said. “When they got back into the offense, took their time and made the right decision, they went on a 11-0 run, which is what it took to win.”
Prep scored the final 11 points of the game to secure the victory.
“It was a tough game, but we played through it and we won,” said freshman Mia Fuller, who scored a game-high 18 points. “Our hard work, not thinking about ourselves, passing to each other, and being a team helped us win.”
St. John’s started the game with an 8-0 run and took a 15-9 lead into the second quarter. Woodlands cut its deficit to four, but Prep finished the quarter strong and was up 25-19 at halftime.
St. John’s struggled to score early in the third but managed to maintain the lead, outscoring Woodlands 13-12 in the frame to take a 38-31 lead into the decisive fourth quarter.
LoCascio believes his team will be able to build some momentum from the victory.
“Once they figure it out, St. John’s Prep will be a team to reckoned with for a long time to come,” he said.