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GIRLS BASKETBALL: St. Mary's Downs Notre Dame

Visiting Tigers suffer season-ending defeat to tall & athletic opponent in NorCal Division IV semis; Notre Dame seniors pleased with historic postseason showing.

The Score: St. Mary’s 60, Notre Dame 39.

The Star: Notre Dame High senior point guard Janet Brazil did an admirable job of directing her team’s offense against a formidable St. Mary’s defense in the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV playoffs. The three-year player scored a team-high nine points in the Northern California semifinal and kept the visiting Tigers as in sync as possible despite being guarded by a quick 6-footer in Gabby Green in Berkeley on Saturday night.

The Turning Point: Notre Dame (15-15) stayed within range of a plausible comeback against the defending NorCal champions into the second half, pulling within seven points when Gianna Bertana banked in a 3-pointer early in the third quarter. But in a sequence midway through the period, the Tigers committed turnovers on three straight possessions. St. Mary’s (29-4) capitalized to take a commanding 43-26 lead on a Jade Rowland 3-pointer with 1:53 remaining in the quarter.

The Quote: “I’m really proud. First of all, we won CCS. That’s a huge deal for our team. I’m going to look back on that forever, come back to the Notre Dame gym and look up and see the banner. That’s what I’m going to remember from this season. I’m just going to remember my teammates and be proud of everything we’ve accomplished.” – Notre Dame four-year player Emily Morris, on her emotions following her team’s breakthrough season.

The Quote #2: "The kids overachieved all year long, and that’s something I’ll be proud of as long as I coach at Notre Dame. This was a great year for the Notre Dame Tigers. All the dedication and hard work they’ve put in was finally rewarded. They competed their guts out.” – Tigers third-year coach Josh Davenport, on what he will remember of his 2010-11 team.

What’s Next? Notre Dame’s season is finished.

The Bottom Line: The Tigers’ historic season came to an expected end against an elite opponent. … In the previous eight days, Notre Dame won – and third overall – and claimed in blowout fashion. But in St. Mary’s of Berkeley, the Tigers were undone by a team with height and athleticism up and down its roster. … Notre Dame impressively set the pace in the first quarter, clearly frustrating St. Mary’s into missing its first nine shots to take a 7-3 lead over the defending NorCal champs at the end of the period. But even then, St. Mary’s showed its ability on the defensive end, as four players combined to block six shots in the opening quarter. … St. Mary’s, No. 8 in the state (and No. 1 in Division IV) according to CalHiSports, overcame its early turnover woes and started to control its fast break in the second quarter – and began to assert itself by making 10-of-20 shots in the period. … Notre Dame’s Katie Flaherty kept her team within 27-17 at the break by drilling a 3-pointer at the buzzer – continuing the accuracy from long distance that has surprised her. “I’ve never been a 3-point shooter in my life,” said the senior forward, whose two late 3-pointers powered the Tigers to the CCS title-game victory over Scotts Valley. “Freshman, sophomore, junior year, I’d never been a 3-point shooter. … In the summer, I made one and I said, ‘That’s it for me.’ (But) in the postseason, I’ve just been shooting them more. And thank God they’ve been going in.” … Notre Dame committed 17 turnovers to St. Mary’s five in the final three quarters. “We have a lot of long, athletic girls,” St. Mary’s coach Nathan Fripp explained. “We try to take players out of what they want to do offensively. The game starts to speed up – that’s what we want to do.” … St. Mary’s freshman guard Gabby Green was a ball-hawk atop her team’s defense. Green is listed at 5-foot-11, but … “She’s not really,” said a smiling Fripp. “She’s taller than that.” … The Panthers, who advanced to the NorCal final for the third straight year, blocked 10 shots, including five by reserve Mikayla Cowling. … St. Mary’s, which started three players 6-foot or taller, enjoyed a huge rebounding advantage at both ends, which helped the hosts attempt 17 more field goals (and 11 more free throws) than Notre Dame. … Asked to compare St. Mary’s to other top teams, Davenport said: “Mitty and Presentation have a lot of length this year, but this team was a lot more athletic and quicker than those teams.” … Morris on the unusual defensive style the Tigers faced on Saturday: “In the WCAL, I think defense is really more controlled. (St. Mary’s is) willing to gamble to block shots. And it works for them.” … Morris (U.C. San Diego) faced a team with three college-bound seniors: April Bernal (Navy), Emily Vann (U.C. Davis) and Cody Sims (Fordham). … Bernal scored all of her game-high 16 points in the second and third quarters as St. Mary’s took control. … “Their defense is tight,” Flaherty said. “Usually, there’s always one short girl. (But) every single one of them was really good. Even their bench players came in and scored.” … Morris on her team’s unprecedented postseason run: “I’m really proud of us because the farthest I’d ever gone was the CCS semifinals. So I got to play for an extra two weeks.”

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St. Mary’s 60, Notre Dame 39

ND – 7 10 11 11 – 39

SM – 5 22 20 13 -- 60

ND: Brazil 3 2-2 9, Bertana 2 0-0 5, Dames 0 2-2 2, Flaherty 2 1-2 6, Morris 4 0-2 8, Soderer 1 1-2 3, White 2 0-0 6. Totals: 14 6-10 39.

SM: Bernal 6 3-3 16, Vann 2 1-4 5, Sims 0 5-6 5, Green 4 0-0 8, Mauldin 5 0-4 10, Cowling 3 0-0 6, Rowland 2 0-0 6, Smull 0 4-4 4. Totals: 22 13-21 60.

3-point goals: ND: White 2, Brazil, Bertana, Flaherty. SM: Rowland 2, Bernal.

Records: Notre Dame 15-15. St. Mary’s 29-4.

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