St. John Vianney Wins Final With Stunning Comeback

first_imgTOMS RIVER -St. John Vianney has won 16 NJSIAA Non-Public A girls basketball championships since it first became a state power in the early 1990s, but none could match Saturday’s stirring comeback.Trailing defending champion Immaculate Heart Academy by 16 points late in the first half, the Lady Lancers staged a stunning second-half comeback to grab a 50-46 victory for its first state title in three years.The win also avenged a two-point setback to IHA in last year’s Non-Public A finals, but Saturday was a different story.“We looked at films of last year’s game the other day,” said SJV’s Tina Lebron, who had the biggest basket of the game, a three-pointer that gave the Lady Lancers their first lead of the game with 2:17 left in the contest. “We picked it apart because we knew that we played badly in that game.”“This was my ninth state title either as a coach or player,” said SJV coach Dawn Karpell, a standout for the Lady Lancers in the 1990s. “This title was special because it was the first state championship for this group of kids.”After Lebron’s basket put SJV ahead, the Lady Lancers never lost the advantage as Kelly Campbell sealed the win with five of six free throws.“It felt good when the ball left my hand,” said Lebron. “When you are that open, you have to do it for your team.“I was a so happy when I made it,” she said, “We’re like a family. We’re so close that it was awesome.”Campbell was named Most Valuable player with 12 points, five steals and seven rebounds, along with a standout performance on defense.“We had some doubt at halftime,” Campbell admitted, “but we knew that we would come back in the second half. We did it with defense. I shoot about 100 free throws in practice each day.”It was all IHA in the first half when it jumped out to a 33-17 lead behind Caitlin Roche, who dropped in four three pointers.SJV came out in the second half looking like a different team, however, as it tightened its defense and shot much better.“We shot only 22 percent in the first half while they shot over 50 percent, ” said Lebron. “We did much better in the second half.”SJV started its comeback quickly in the third quarter, closing the gap to 33-26 on a pair of baskets by Campbell and a three-pointer from Kellie Crouch.“We wanted to get the lead down to eight points by the end of the quarter and play better defense,” said Karpell.SJV actually narrowed it to 35-31, on two free throws by Vanessa Pinho, but IHA appeared to recover and had what looked like a safe 43-35 lead with 4:17 remaining.It was here that SJV finally put everything together as it scored 13 straight points, including Lebron’s key three-pointer and five free throws by Campbell.IHA’s Jordan Wilmoth gave her team some hope with a three-pointer with 32 seconds left, but foul shots by Campbell and Zoe Pero clinched it.“We just decided to play better in the second half,” said Karpell.“We also put Campbell on Roche and she did a great job by holding her scoreless.“Once we got the lead, we caught momentum and it was another level for us,” she said. “The kids began to believe.”–By Jim Hintelmannlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *