Bonnies Take JV Title In A "Stella"Comeback Win
After amassing a 14-0 season record in the Division II GCHSAA for the second season in a row in league play, the first seeded JV Bonnies met second seeded Stella Maris for this year's championship on Tuesday evening, March 11, 2008, at St. John's Prep in Astoria.
Not wanting his team to rest on their laurels and knowing that he'd be playing a team that was bigger and more physical, first year coach Stephen Oliver told his team to "Play with intensity and make sure you box out!"
But as it turned out, it would be Stella Maris that started the game out with intensity and with post position. First, the Flippers ran up and down the court to score on fast breaks, and then boxed out the Bonnies for rebounds for a 13-11 first quarter Stella Maris lead. The Bonnies attempted to open the second quarter with some intensity of their own as Justina Johnson (11 points) buried a 3-point shot, but the Flippers' continued their control of the court and the boards keeping it a close game.
Though seemingly unusual at the time, down by one point, Coach Oliver called a timeout with five seconds left in the second quarter to draw up a play. Since his team had been outplayed in the first half, Oliver spread the court to inbound the ball allowing Katie Henderson (19 points) to go one on one for a runner that kissed off the glass to give the Bonnies a much-needed psychological 20-19 lead at the half.
After Oliver challenged his team to get back into the game and to play the way they were capable of this season, the Bonnies took a 32-23 lead at midthird quarter mark after Katie Henderson, Justina Johnson and Sarah McCarthy hit on three consecutive 3- point shots.
Following her teammates' lead, Jillian Oliver (6 points) also hit consecutively from behind the arc to help the Bonnies to a 20-4 run.
Starting the fourth quarter with a 40-23 lead, coach Oliver told his team to be smart with the ball and to avoid needless fouls that would allow Stella Maris to get back into the game. Dana Distabile's (6 points) defense at the perimeter and Annette Scotto's control of the boards put the finishing touch to Stella Maris' last quarter attempt to take away Fontbonne's second consecutive championship.
Summing up his team's performance, Oliver stated, "They [Stella Maris] out-played and out-rebounded us in the first half, but our girls came through for me in the second half. We changed from our usual 3-2 defense to a 2-3 defense so we could get rebounds."
Explaining the team's clinching 20-4 third quarter run, Oliver added, "Once we got a big enough lead, we went back to our regular defense, pressured the ball, made steals and scored. We had tremendous guard play; our guards just put the pressure on Stella to stop the passes into their post players."
When asked about next season and hopes of repeating for third championship, Oliver responded, "I have a lot of good freshmen coming back and I'll miss my sophomore base; we'll see what the freshmen class looks like. This is the first time for me to be coaching a girl's team; I didn't think that I would be saying this, but I'll be back!"