In a tie game with just over a minute left in regulation, the Racine St. Catherine’s girls basketball team turned to a play coach Sean Brady had lots of confidence in with the ball out of bounds on the baseline.
Senior Sydney Tepley completed a three-point play, then the No. 4-seeded Angels defense made it tough on top-seeded Whitefish Bay Dominican’s shot in the closing seconds to hold on to a 64-63 WIAA Division 3 regional final victory.
“She is just dominant in the post and has been all year,” St. Catherine coach Sean Brady said. “We have run that play a few times this year I knew we could get it to her, and she got it and did a good job with it.”
The victory puts the Angels (17-7) into Thursday night’s sectional against No. 3 seeded Oostburg in West Bend.
“No one expected anything of this group and what they have been able to accomplish has been amazing,” Brady said.
Tepley helped them punch their ticket when she made a cut and a post move, took the inbounds pass, banked home the shot and hit the ensuing free throw to complete the three-point play.
“We do a lot of down screens down low,” said Tepley, who had 10 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. “It wasn’t really working. They caught on, so I just improvised. There was only one person guarding me so I just got position and posted up and it worked.”
“A big thing we wanted to do was stick together as a team, and we did a great job executing tonight.”
Dominican (22-2) knew the Angels liked to run that play and worked on it in practice throughout the week.
“We were there,” Dominican coach Kevin Schramka said of the Knights’ defense on the play. “When she caught it she was off balance. She shot, but we didn’t screen out.
“She has been playing lights out the last couple months and is just a load to handle.”
After Tepley made it 62-59, Mishayla Jones got Dominican back within one with 12.8 seconds left until Olivia Braun hit a pair of free throws to get the St. Catherine lead back to three at 64-61.
Jones had 15 points as one of four Knights to score in double figures with Dilonna Johnson scoring 12 points, Allazia Blockton adding 14 and Deysha Smith-Jenkins leading the way with 22 points.
The Knights inbounded after the made free throws and called timeout just after crossing half court.
Dominican ran a pick play, and Smith-Jenkins got a clean shot off that rimmed out with two seconds left. Jones reacted and scored from point-blank range on the rebound, but it was not enough as the buzzer sounded.
“They knew where we wanted to go and they did a good job of taking (Johnson) away,” Schramka said. “We tried to use her as a screener, but they were all over it. We had a hard time getting off a shot. That’s what happens when you know a team well like we know each other.”
“I told the girls to make sure we were all over (Johnson, who hit the only two threes for the Knights all game),” Brady said. “We played prevent on the three and closed out. If we went to overtime, we went to overtime. We did a good job of keeping it out of (Johnson’s) hands. I’m happy with how we played it.”
St. Catherine led at halftime, 25-21, but Dominican seized control of the game right off the bat in the third quarter with a 16-2 run to take a 37-27 lead.
“We knew we had to stay together as a team,” Tepley said. “We had to calm ourselves down. Now we know what we can do as a team and we can only get better from here."
The Angels answered with an 8-0 run that made things nip and tuck the rest of the game, with four ties and five lead changes in the fourth quarter alone.
The loss is just the third in the last two years for Dominican, which reached the state tournament last season. With the success this group has had, Schramka is proud of what the girls have accomplished.
“We have nothing to hang our heads on with 48 wins in the last two years,” Schramka said. “I’m proud of the girls and what we have accomplished this year and last year.”
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