Central Catholic Raiders Girls Basketball '08-'09

Sat, Mar 14, 2009 05:45 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Shepherd Hill 8 19 20 15 62
Central Catholic 14 12 21 20 67
Eagle-Tribune/Angie Beaulieu, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Zenevitch,Central Catholic surge to crown

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Saturday, March, 14 By Mike McMahon
Staff writer

WORCESTER, Mass. — Sue Downer waited 13 years to hear that buzzer.
As the final seconds ticked away in last night’s surprisingly tight Division 1 state championship game, it was mission complete for Central Catholic as the Raiders beat the Shepherd Hill Fighting Rams 67-62 in come-from-behind fashion.
 It was 60-60 in the final minute before Central took over to capture its first state title in the 13-year history of the program. Downer has been at the helm since day one.
 “Unbelievable,” Downer said of her initial feeling after time expired. “This is what we fought for all yea. It’s a great feeling, and at the same time quite a relief because (Shepherd Hill) gave us quite a fight, they’re a good basketball team. Watching our girls run on the floor at the end of the game and raise the trophy like that, it feels unbelievable.”
No surprise that Katie Zenevitch was again the hero with four late free throws (two with 7.7 seconds left to put the game out of teach).
The title helped ease the pain of many of the girls from the 2007 state title loss here to Springfield Central.
 “I wish some of the girls from that team could be here to experience this, too,” said Downer. “Katie was here on that team, and you could tell in the second half that she just wanted it.”
Zenevitch led the Raiders, and all scorers, with 28 points and pulled down an implausible 26 rebounds.
The Raiders led 20-10 midway through the second quarter before Shepherd Hill, a heavy underdog, closed the half on a 17-6 run to take a one-point lead at the intermission, 27-26.
Shepherd Hill’s Casey Glynn nailed a three 3-pointers late in the second quarter to cap the Rams’ run.
“We changed into a 1-3-1, and that’s when they started hitting some threes,” said Downer. “We were changing a lot on defense; we went from a man to a zone, and just kept trying things until something worked.”
 The Rams then opened the third quarter with four points in the first 30 seconds to make the Central deficit five points.
“We started to hit some shots and we thought, ‘Hey, this might be real,’” said Shepherd Hill head coach James Hackenson.
The Fighting Rams beat up Central in the paint, throwing a kink in the Raiders’ game plan.
Zenevitch, who stands at 6-foot-3, was hammered by 5-foot-10 Rachael Montville every time she entered the paint.
But the Raiders adjusted, running some plays where Zenevitch rolled to the top of the key, where she hit a pair of 3-pointers.
“In the paint, they made it really tough for me to get the ball inside to Katie,” said sophomore guard Gabie Polce. “They were really physical. We were trying a few different things to get the ball to Katie and it seemed like every time we made a change, they changed something to counter it. In the end, we were finally able to break it through.”
Late in the game, the Raiders were able to penetrate the ferocious Ram pressure and get the ball inside to Zenevitch and Melissa Miller.
“I told (Zenevitch) at halftime to just take over,” said Downer, whose club held a 22-12 advantage from the line. “She needed to play with confidence. She obviously has the ability and the skill to do it.”
The junior center responded with 17 second-half points, but she wasn’t alone in carrying the load.
Ashley Evangelista had a colossal steal in the final minute and Gia O’Connor had a block on Ali Tyburski with just seconds left to seal the deal.
“Gia’s block was incredible,” Zenevitch said. “That’s a huge play.”
O’Connor’s block magnified Downer’s speech to her team before the game.
“I told them that we would win this game with our defensive pressure,” she said. “That’s how we were going to get it done.
She continued, “To win a championship, you don’t do it with one player, you don’t get this far with one player,” Downer said. “Katie, I’ll say it, she’s the best big player in the state. But Gia’s block and Ashley’s steal, those plays go a long way in winning a championship, too.
“Of course, Katie at the line towards the end of the game is just huge. If she doesn’t hit those foul shots, it’s a different game.”

Game Statistics:

Central Catholic (67):  Katie Zenevitch 8-10-28, Gia O'Connor 3-4-10, , Gabie Polce 3-2-9, Melissa Miller 3-6-12, Ashley Evangelista 4-0-8, Kelley Mikus 0-0-0, Brianna Martin 0-0-0, Kendall Desrosiers 0-0-0. Totals 21-22-67

Shepherd Hill (62): Nicole Caron 3-2-9, Megan Boutillette 6-4-17, Rachael Montville 1-4-6, Ali Tyburski 2-2-7, Jackie Penniman 1-0-2, Mary Barbale 5-0-12, Casey Glynn 3-0-9, Meghan Fornaro 0-0-0. Totals 21-12-62

3-pointers: CC — Zenevitch 2, Polce; SH — Glynn 3, Barbale 2, Caron, Boutillette, Tyburski

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