Magnificat cages upstart Jaguars in matinee thriller
By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Magnificat girls basketball team traveled to St. Joseph Academy as underdogs to the fast-running, high-powered Jaguars on Saturday and willed itself to a last-minute 43-39 victory, capped by a pair of free throws by freshman Lily Schwind with 2.4 seconds left on the clock.
The two free throws put the final nails into St. Joes’ coffin, giving the Jaguars their second loss of the season.
“That was awesome,” Magnificat head coach Meghhann Hubach said. “I thought Lily did a really nice job. She rebounded the ball tremendously today and she played tough and finished well under the hoop.
“In a game like this, there’s a lot of contact under the hoop that (the officials) don’t necessarily call – which is the way I would want the game to be called – I thought (Schwind) did a really good job and stepped up. It was fantastic for the team.”
The Blue Streaks (12-6) found themselves buried under a 13-2 early-first-quarter deficit, but after Hubach called for a timeout, the girls started to settle down and chip away at St. Joe’s lead.
“Fortunately, it was very early in the game,” Hubach said of the Jaguars’ early scoring burst. “St. Joe’s likes to play that ‘you’re-going-to-shoot-early-and-shoot-often’ (type of offense), and it’s troublesome (for us).
“We just tried to tell the girls (during the time out) not to panic, it’s a long game and we just need to ride it out. Every team makes runs, and hopefully (at that point) we hope that was their run. We were able to sustain (St. Joe’s early scoring) and just kind of work our way back during the rest of the game.”
This was not the first game this season in which the Blue Streaks were forced to come from behind. They were in a similar situation in a game against Hathaway Brown earlier in the season.
“It’s tough to play from behind,” Hubach said. “I think, especially in a rivalry game like this, there’s a lot at stake, a lot on the line and a lot of emotions – every possession is a new opportunity – so just do what you can. Again, fortunately, their run was at the beginning of the game and not at the end, so it gave us plenty of time to chip away at (their lead), not panic and keep playing hard.”
Magnificat was able to make it a nine-point game by the end of the first quarter and battled back to make it a two-possession game, going into halftime down 22-18. After halftime, the Blue Streaks started making turnovers and scored on almost every possession, taking a 32-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
“In the beginning, we were jamming rebounders in the net, which put our defense at a disadvantage, so we needed to really put an effort to getting back on defense and locate our players quicker,” Hubach said. “I told them not to panic (early in the game), stay composed, be confident and we’ll get stuff done.”
In the fourth quarter, Magnificat started to pull away, taking a 40-34 lead, but the Jaguars (16-2) battled back, and after a big Blue Streaks turnover, it was a one-point game with 49.4 seconds left on the clock with the visiting team leading 40-39. St. Joe’s was determined to make Magnificat make free throws to win the game, as the Jaguars fouled on every possession the rest of the way.
Another Magnificat freshman, Anne Ubbing, sank one of two free throws to make the score 41-39 before Schwind hit on both of hers to end the game.
Along with Schwind (10 points and five rebounds) and Ubbing, the third freshman on the floor was Phoebe Sterba, who made her mark in this game by chipping in 10 points.
“I thought that Phoebe did a nice job of making some really good baskets, especially in the first half,” Hubach stated.
Magnificat junior Bridget Pryatel added two points and seven rebounds.
St. Joe’s senior Katie Battaglia led all scoring in the game with 15 points.
According to Hubach, winning a game in the way the Blue Streaks won on Saturday will help her team in the high-pressure games coming in the postseason.
“We have five games remaining after today, and we’ve talked about how we’ve gone through some growing pains – we are a young team – and you can only use that as an excuse for so long,” she said.