Nazareth’s Danielle Scully prepares to take a shot while guarded by Carmel’s Mia Gillis in the East Suburban Catholic championship game. Photo by Steve Metsch
Balanced Nazareth wins East Suburban Catholic
By Steve Metsch
Moments before the opening tip in the East Suburban Catholic Conference tournament title game, Carmel coach Ben Berg said his team was playing with house money.”
Berg was referring to how Corsairs — 4-3 in conference play entering the tourney — were not expected to be playing in the championship game.
As it turned out, Carmel ran out of house money and Nazareth cashed in for a 58-47 victory.
The Roadrunners (25-2 entering this week) had advanced to the title game with a 57-54 win over Marist in the semifinals.
Nazareth trailed by four points late in the second quarter and used a balanced scoring attack to hold off several Corsairs’ rallies.
Carmel’s twin towers, Grace Sullivan and Jordan Wood, combined for 37 points. Sullivan, a 6-foot-4 senior heading to Bucknell, scored 15 points. Jordan Wood, a 6-foot-5 junior who is verbally committed to Michigan State, led all scorers with 22 points.
Nazareth’s Olivia Austin had the task of guarding Sullivan.
“You just have to front her,” Austin said. “She’s very strong. It was challenging but we did a good job taking away the lob.”
Grace Carstensen led the Roadrunners with 15 points — 12 in the first half — while playing on a left ankle she sprained in the first quarter. She attributed the win to Nazareth’s diverse attack.
“One of the things [coach Eddie Stritzel] always says is we’re really hard to guard because all of us can score, “ Carstensen said.
Austin added 13 points, and Danielle Scully and Amalia Dray both scored 12.
Carstensen scored all her first-half points on 3-pointers.
“I was feeling it,” she said. “This proves a lot because we’re pretty young and we’re just trying to prove ourselves.”
Carstensen was not worried when Carmel cut the lead to 51-45 with 1:52 left in the game.
“We just kept our energy up and that’s all you really need in a game like this,” she added.
After Austin blocked a shot by Anna Hartman, Danielle Scully hit a jumper for a 53-45 lead with 1:10 to play.
Austin said the Roadrunners are very unselfish with the ball.
“That helps a lot, she said. “That’s the way we’re going to win games.”
The Roadrunners led 11-9 after one quarter, 27-21 at the half and 39-30 after three quarters.
After the Corsairs took a 21-17 lead with 3:11 left in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Wood, but Nazareth went on a 15-0 run to take a 32-21 lead into halftime.
“Carmel gives us so many problems with size,” Stritzel said. “Wood and Sullivan, they’re bigger than I am. I thought our speed was the difference in the game. We got so many hands on their passes.”
Nazareth finished its regular season with two games this week. The Roadrunners are the top seed in the Class 3A De La Salle Sectional and will open their postseason Feb. 15.