MIDDLE VILLAGE N.Y. – Miami Country Day (Miami, Fla.) took control early and withstood a late rally, to defeat Seton Catholic (Chandler, Ariz.) 55-48 in the second girls semifinal at the DICK’S High School Nationals on Friday.
After leading by as many as 20, Seton Catholic closed to within four in the final minute. But two Channise Lewis free throws with 13.6 seconds left put the game away.
The Spartans, ranked No. 6 in the Super 25, were thoroughly dominant in the paint, particularly early on. And their efficiency inside allowed them to get some open looks for their outside shooters. In all, Miami Country Day went 7-for-17 from beyond the arc, led by Lewis who went 3-for-5.
“We practice shooting threes for half our practice,” Lewis said. “So if it’s not falling down, we have to find another way to win games. But today it was falling.”
Lewis was sensational for Miami Country Day, leading the Spartans with 21 points, to go along with 6 assists. Asha Taylor added 10 points and 9 rebounds, as part of a fairly balanced offensive attack for the Spartans. All five starters scored at least eight points.
Miami Country Day led 15-2 at the end of one, and took a 30-18 going into the locker room. They got their biggest lead midway through the third, during a stretch where it seemed like they couldn’t miss from downtown.
But Seton Catholic kept fighting, and outscored the Spartans 18-9 in the fourth – much of it behind Sarah Barcello, who the Spartans didn’t seem to have an answer for defensively.
Spartans coach Ochiel Swaby said in the postgame news conference that although he didn’t feel his team was going to lose at any point during Seton Catholic’s comeback, he thought his club’s lack of depth made them susceptible in the fourth quarter.
“I’m a paranoid coach,” Swaby said. “Until that horn goes off, I just feel like a team could get hot. Especially when they have some quality kids like they have over there. And we’re short in terms of our bench. And our kids are a little bit tired. I just want them to stay focused and make good decisions as we go down the stretch.
Seton Catholic, the No. 14 team in the Super 25, was extremely game in defeat. After the sluggish start, the Sentinels rallied several times to cut into the margin.
Barcello was outstanding for Seton Catholic. She led the Sentinels with 21 points on 9-for-12 shooting. Lee Anne Wirth added 12.
Wirth said her team couldn’t seem to play as a cohesive group until after the break.
“We started playing better as a team in the second half,” Wirth said. “I think that’s what really helped us. But we should’ve started it how we ended it.”
Seton Catholic did have a slight edge on the boards, outrebounding Miami Country Day 31-27. But Sentinels coach Karen Self thought that her team would have a bigger advantage, particularly on the offensive glass.
“We definitely didn’t get enough offensive rebounds,” Self said. “Which is one of the places where we tend to excel. And I think that hurt us offensively.”
Miami Country Day, the top seed in the DICK’S Nationals, advances to meet second seed Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tenn.) in Saturday’s championship game.