On Saturday afternoon, the girls’ basketball team beat the Sacred Heart Prep Gators in thrilling fashion, ending with a narrow score of 35-34.
The defense marked the game throughout all four quarters. Both teams were penalized for multiple shot clock violations and there were many empty positions within the first few minutes. The Gators struck first with a layup, but junior Avary Sheldon evened the score quickly with two free throws.
A three-pointer from sophomore Luisa Tava and a layup from Sheldon left the score 7-4 in favor of M-A by the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter showcased more offensive prowess for both sides, with senior Fiona Steinmetz scoring with two great post moves and Tava drilling in another three-pointer. Sophomore Lita Fakapelea, who was phenomenal all game, also got into the scoresheet with an amazing drive and layup towards the end of the half.
However, the Gators stayed right with M-A throughout the second quarter, largely due to their dominant center who gave the Bears trouble all game. The half ended with the Bears on top with a score of 16-13.
The Sacred Heart paint dominance started to shine through in the third quarter, as they scored 12 points, all of them coming under the basket. Free throws from Sheldon and junior Eve Amram kept the M-A offense afloat but the Bears were short on interior defense, a burden that became majorly apparent. Even though Fakapelea hit a long jump shot at the end of the third quarter, M-A was still down 23-25 going into the final period.
Fakapelea started to impose her will on the Gators down the stretch, kickstarting the fourth quarter with a steal and two stunning layups that quickly brought the score even at 27-27. Though things started to look up for the Bears, the Gators went back to work with a quick three-pointer and layup. Tava countered with a three-pointer leaving M-A down only two with four minutes left.
Free throws from Steinmetz and Amram helped bring the Bears’ deficit to just one point with under a minute left. M-A put the ball in Sheldon’s hands, who made a swift move to the basket and scored a layup, putting M-A at a 35-34 advantage.
The Gators then missed a shot, turning the ball back over to M-A. However, the Bears committed a backcourt violation with ten seconds left, giving Sacred Heart one more chance to win. Luckily, the Gators could not capitalize, and M-A won with a final score of 35-34.
After the game, Sheldon said, “Even though Sacred Heart is not in our league, they are just always a team we want to beat. It’s Sacred Heart—it’s a known M-A thing that you always want to beat them, no matter the circumstances.”
Fakapelea also talked about her impactful performance. She credited her success to her teammates, saying, “Throughout the second half, my teammates helped me and pushed me forward. I was not playing as well in the first quarter, but I was able to get it going more in the second half.”