SAINT Joseph's Regional College only lost one game all tournament before they went on to become NSW state basketball champions at Penrith with a 49-35 win over St Mary Star of the Sea Wollongong.
St Joey's victory in the grand final of the 9/10 girls NSWCCC state finals of the Lismore Diocesan championships in August was their Wollongong opponent's first defeat of the competition.
Coach Jason Berry said St Mary's started exceptionally well in the opening part of the match, shooting the ball at a very high percentage to take an early 16-6 lead into the first time out.
"The girls showed great belief and maturity in regrouping to re-establish our style of play," he said.
"Instead of playing a conservative style, the girls picked up the intensity and committed to putting St Mary's under pressure in the full court allowing us to force turnovers and create a numbers advantage regularly in offence."
The Port Macquarie school then turned the momentum and took a 27-24 lead into halftime.
Team discipline and composure was vital to ensure the game was played on our terms for the remainder of the match.Jason Berry
"With the game in the balance, the girls started the second half with great intent and relentless pressure to take control of the game by converting great defence into efficient offence," Berry said.
They extended their lead to 37-26 with 12 minutes remaining before St Mary's called for a timeout.
"Team discipline and composure was vital to ensure the game was played on our terms for the remainder of the match," the coach said.
"Full credit goes to the whole team who were able to finish off the tournament in fantastic fashion."
St Joseph's only defeat came in a 33-31 loss to Mount Saint Joseph's Milperra before they bounced back in the second game of the tournament to register a comfortable 41-14 win.
"The primary focus was being to tighten up the defence and become extremely difficult to play against (in that match) where the girls managed to get on top early," Berry said.
In their third match of the day, St Joey's again were too good with a 44-24 victory over St Francis De Sales Regional College, Leeton which sent them on their way to the quarter-finals of the championship division.
Coach Berry admitted Tuesday presented a huge challenge for his team.
"Going through to the quarter-finals as a number two seed meant that we needed to beat first place in the other three pools to become state champions," he said.
"The girls started the quarter-final very strongly against McAuley Catholic Central School Tumut and took control to run out comfortable winners 62-35."
Going through to the quarter-finals as a number two seed meant that we needed to beat first place in the other three pools to become state champions.Jason Berry
The quarter-final win set up a clash with reigning champions St Pius X High School from Adamstown who St Joseph's cruised past 44-24 to progress to the final.
The first 10 minutes was played on St Joseph's terms, although St Pius were able to stay in the game by converting all twelve of their first half free throws.
"At half-time our girls were starting to get on top to hold a 23-16 lead and the girls' full court pressure at the start of the second half wore down St Pius who were looking to play a far more structured style," Berry said.
"Defensively the girls were able to shut down the game and only allow four successful baskets for the whole game in general play.
"The girls showed great maturity in brushing aside the previous defeat and embraced the mindset "to win the state championship, we must beat everybody".
Congratulations goes to the following players on becoming NSWCCC state champions: Georgie Bate, Maddison Baxter, Shannon Burton, Chloe Eichmann, Ella Handley, Prada Hanlan, Emma Humble, Jordynn McAnally, Monique Rudder, Ella Smith, Bridget Williams.
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