Seton Keough tops St. Mary's for Catholic title Third time is the charm for No. 3 Gators, 70-55

February 26, 1996|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Seton Keough senior forward Meghann Donovan made up her mind that things would be different in the Gators' third meeting with No. 2 St. Mary's.

Twice during the regular season, Donovan had watched her team build a lead after three quarters, only to succumb to a late Saints rally.

But there would be no fourth-quarter collapse for No. 3 Seton Keough this time.

Donovan scored 10 of her 30 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Gators to a 70-55 victory over St. Mary's in the Catholic League tournament championship game at Archbishop Spalding yesterday.

"We had already lost to them twice, so it wasn't like we had anything to lose coming in," said Donovan, who pulled down 13 rebounds. "We knew they could come back in the fourth quarter, but we were a lot more confident and ready this time."

Donovan established herself early, scoring 11 points in the first 5:38, as the Gators built a 19-7 lead.

"Meghann really stepped up in the first half and said 'I'm going to take responsibility. Whether we lose or win it's going to be on my shoulders,' " Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg said.

Following Donovan's lead, the Gators were much more aggressive on offense than in their previous two games against the Saints.

"We set the tone in the beginning that we were going to attack them instead of just playing a preventive, maintenance type of game, and whatever happens, happens," Stromberg said.

Seton Keough (23-4), which had lost to the Saints by 13 on Feb. 14 and by 10 on Wednesday, never trailed.

St. Mary's (27-2) used a 17-7 spurt to pull within 26-24 in the second quarter, but that's as close as it would get.

The Gators, who won their first Catholic League tournament title since 1991, pushed their lead to 33-26 at halftime and extended it to 48-37 after three quarters.

Heidi Moldenhauer's three-pointer with 5:56 left reduced the deficit to 52-45, but Seton Keough scored eight of the next nine points to thwart the Saints' attempt for another fourth-quarter rally.

Kelly Kearney made just one basket for the Gators, but it was a big one. Her three-pointer with 4:15 remaining boosted Seton Keough's advantage to 56-45 and shifted the momentum.

"We've been starting out slowly recently," St. Mary's senior forward Tara Foran said. "We dig a hole, but we can usually get ourselves out of it. Today, we couldn't."

Donovan, who shot 58 percent from the foul line this season, was six-for-six from the line in the final 1:30 and converted 12 of 16 overall.

Playing without Melanie Morris, the versatile senior guard who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 7, Seton Keough also received solid efforts from Amanda Foster (14 points) and Charity Carbine (13 points).

"With or without Melanie Morris, they have a great team," St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson said. "But we beat them two times. We got the league title, we were 14-0 in the league, and they can't take that away from us."

Foran scored 18 to lead St. Mary's and Moldenhauer and Terri Daniels added 11 apiece.

Boys

* St. Frances 72, Loyola 57: Alphonso Jones scored 16 points and Mark Karcher added 14 as top-ranked St. Frances (25-4) beat visiting Loyola. The Panthers, regular-season Catholic League champions, led 32-29 at halftime.

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