2006-03-17 / Sports

Stella Maris Falls In State Playoffs

By Elio Velez

Holy Angels' Ann Cassell (23) drives to the basket against Stella Maris in the second half. The Lady Flippers lost 53-48. 
Holy Angels' Ann Cassell (23) drives to the basket against Stella Maris in the second half. The Lady Flippers lost 53-48. Stella Maris left Rockaway on a eight to nine hour trip to Canisius College last Friday morning just to play one game, which was the Catholic Class C State semifinal against Holy Angels the next day.

The game may have had an early 12 p.m. start time but Stella Maris came out with the energy and got easy looks to the basket.

To the Lady Flippers' dismay, the basket looked as if it took a life of its own. The rim acted like the troll in the old fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff, where you had to pay the troll to cross the bridge. If you didn't pay the exact toll, the troll would not let you cross.

Unfortunately for Stella Maris, they couldn't find the exact change to cross the bridge to the other side of victory as Holy Angels advanced to the Class C championship, 53-48.

The Lady Flippers had one last chance to tie the game at 51 with 3 seconds left in the fourth quarter but Alexa Rosella, who scored 17, would have her game tying three point basket roll in and out of the cylinder. Angels' Jessie Yee would sink two free throws to ice the game.

Close but no cigar seemed to be the appropriate motto for the Flippers according to head coach Maureen Gigliello.

"I thought she (Rosella) had great focus, squared her feet and I thought she was ready to tie the game for us," Gigliello said about the three point attempt. "She thought it was going in and I thought so too."

Stella Maris usually averages 60 points a game and in most instances, that would be enough margin to get the victory. Gigliello, whose team finished with a 16-10 record and winners of the Division II CHSAA City Catholic title, said her team's misfortune in converting baskets helped doomed them to defeat.

"I don't think it was a case of nerves for my team. We just didn't get into a flow and we missed some layups. We should have been up more but you can't give up easy baskets or we'll let them stay in the game," Gigliello said

With Holy Angels hanging around, it was a matter of time before they made a run to take the lead. In the third quarter with Stella Maris holding slightly to a 16-15 lead, Ann Cassell would cause problems for the opposition by scoring 15 of her 21 points from the outside in the second half. "They ran a nice motion offense and we lost her (Cassell) a couple of times on the wings and she scored," Gigliello said

Holy Angels would score in transition and made things a lot harder for the Flippers to score on the defensive end. Jennifer Anglero, the all time leading scorer in the history of Stella Maris, had a hard time getting open looks in the second half and only scored 12 points.

Erin Casey was held to a season low of only two points and Caroline Weekes, who scored 17 points in their city title win, could only gain four points.

"All year, our shots would seem to fall at the right time. We took high percentage shots and we were running our offense. It just didn't fall for us," Gigliello said.

Holy Angels were clutch down the stretch. Anglero tied the game at 43 with a basket but Katie Finn would strike quickly with a bucket to make it 45-43 with less than two minutes left. The Flippers would get no closer.

What turned out to be the final game for seven seniors also was the last chance for the team to visit Niagara Falls. The team not only saw the gushing waterfalls but also saw a marriage proposal.

In that day, Gigliello saw defeat but also saw victory in her team. The ultimate win this year was that her goal of dining team chemistry and harmony had come to fruition.

"It's nice to win a state title but we accomplished what we set out to do. They enjoy each other and this is the closest bunch of girls I've ever coached in 13 years."

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