St. Joseph splits decisions in state tourney

The St. Joseph’s girls basketball team scored early and often against Granby in the second round of the Class M playoffs, defeating the Bears 49-32. The win was the 14th-seeded Cadets 11th in a row dating back to a road victory over Harding High at Miska Gymnasium on Jan. 24.

On March 10, St. Joseph lost to sixth-seeded Morgan, 54-49, in a quarterfinal matchup in Clinton.

Juniors Shannon O’Meara and Bridget Sharnick led the Cadets with 14 points apiece against No. 30 seed Granby, while sophomore Jacqueline Jozefick added seven points. Krista Iwanicki led the Bears with 10 points and Julia Mazzotta added seven.

“Because this was potentially our last home game, we were in the thought process that we needed to come out early and play our game,” St. Joseph coach Chris Lindwall said. “We’re playing so well defensively right now. That’s eleven in a row now since we started this. We’re running on all pistons right now. The kids did a nice job and we made our shots. You have to make your shots to get that lead.”

St. Joseph started out with a 7-0 run as Jozefick hit two jump shots and Sharnick nailed a 3-pointer, before Iwanicki hit a jumper to make it 7-2. The Cadets then went on a 5-0 swing, starting with one of two from the line from Caitlin Sharnick and then a 3-pointer and two foul shots from O’Meara.

Mazzotta answered with a jump shot, to which O’Meara answered with a layup and jumper to put the Cadets up on the Bears, 17-4, after the first quarter.

In the second, Bridget Sharnick started things off with a 3-pointer, before Jozefick nailed a hook shot. Granby’s Shae Martel then hit a 3-pointer, which Caitlin Sharnick answered with a corner jump shot to give St. Joe’s a 24-8 lead. Bridget Sharnick then added another basket from the beyond the arc, before Iwanicki hit a jumper to make it 27-12. Maite Gritsko and Jozefick both made one of two from the line and O’Meara hit a 3-pointer to give the Cadets a 32-13 lead at the half.

“I said to our kids at halftime, ‘It’s 0-0,’” Lindwall said. “We need to get ourselves focused on what we need to do and you need to go get them right now. That first four minutes of the third quarter, that was it.

“We really shut them down defensively. That’s our key. We live and die by our defense, but when we hit our shots we’re even better.”

St. Joseph started the second half with Bridget Sharnick hitting one of two from the line and Jozefick sinking a jump shot.

But it was truly the Cadet defense that led the way, allowing only five points in the quarter and helping St. Joseph enter the fourth with a 19-point lead, 37-18.

The Cadets started the fourth on a 6-0 run, with Bridget Sharnick’s layup and a O’Meara jumper and another Sharnick layup giving St. Joseph a 25-point lead.

Emily Pleszko and Katie Gardella made baskets down the stretch to seal the win, 49-32.

“The kids have been working so hard in practice and they’re committed to getting better every day and that’s our theme,” Lindwall said. “Now we’re in the position that we haven’t been in the quarterfinals in a long time so why not us? It’s a tribute to these kids because they’re working really hard. Everybody has stepped up their game, everybody has improved their game. Everyone is play really well. I’m really proud of this group.”

St. Joseph finished its season 15-8 overall.