When No. 2-seeded Chandler Seton Catholic Prep and No. 1 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows met during the regular season in January, Cactus Shadows pulled out a four-point victory.
The tables turned drastically on Saturday afternoon at Gila River Arena.
Led by senior guard Sarah Barcello and the Wirth sisters, LeeAnne and Jenn, Seton Catholic captured the 4A Conference girls basketball state championship, 61-27.
Coach Karen Self said the loss earlier in the season wasn’t in the back of her players’ minds. It was in the front.
“We watched film pretty much every day we had the opportunity,” she said. “Our kids really took that loss to heart, and they made a commitment to follow our game plan and make sure that we came out on top this time.”
Seton Catholic shot 44 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Barcello, who averaged 18 points per game in the regular season, led the way with 20 points, while hauling in eight rebounds.
The Wirth sisters, who are both committed to play at Gonzaga next year, closed out their high school careers in style. Jenn had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. LeeAnne, who missed a significant part of the regular season because of a back injury, had six points and six rebounds.
“It’s amazing that all of our hard work has paid off,” LeeAnne Wirth said. “Our team definitely deserves it. There really are no words for it. It’s just amazing.”
Seton Catholic jumped out to a 10-2 run in the first 3 minutes. Cactus Shadows’ leading scorer, Caitlin Bickle, committed two early fouls that set the tone.
“Our kids knew what it took to beat this team, and we knew they were good,” Self said. “But we had a very specific game plan going in and the kids followed it to perfection, and I think it showed in the score.”
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Cactus Shadows shot 29 percent from the floor. Bickle fouled out at the started of the fourth quarter and scored four points. Second-leading scorer Tierney DeDonatis, who also fouled out, finished with six points.
Cactus Shadows scored only two points in the second quarter and went into halftime trailing 31-12, in part because of the Wirths’ defense.
Jenn Wirth, 6-foot-2, finished with two blocks and three steals, and LeeAnne Wirth, 6-3, had four blocks and three steals. They forced Cactus Shadows to shoot from the outside.
Seton Catholic won the rebounding battle 37-19 and forced nine steals.
“Jenn and I are very honored that we got a scholarship (to Gonzaga),” LeeAnne Wirth said. “Coming into this game, we wanted to focus on this particular game before we thought about college. Just knowing we have such bring futures is amazing. We have to give it all to our coaches, our parents and obviously giving thanks to God for everything He has blessed us with.”