St. John’s Catholic Prep girls’ basketball coach Sheldon Henry told his team after the IAAM C Conference championship game Sunday afternoon that it was a pleasure to coach them.

After their performance, it was easy see to why. The Vikings (21-5 overall) used 15 assists to rally from an early deficit to win their second straight crown in an impressive 59-38 win over Catholic High at Goucher College.

The Vikings clicked on all cylinders offensively due in large part to sophomore center Christine Hagan, who had a double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds.

“We just calmed down, we’ve been here before and we weren’t nervous,” said Hagan, 6-foot-4. “We just played our game and it worked.”

“Christine [Hagan] has come a long way this season and is just a pleasure to coach,” said Henry.  “She plays hard, gives us a lot of extra rebounds and everything that hits hand sticks. You haven’t seen the best of her yet.”

Vikings’ junior guard Mariel Pierce had a game-high 12 points along with five assists.

After a 10-point, nine rebound performance in the opening half, Hagan continued to dominate the boards but the Cubs (17-4) limited her offensive chances. Pierce and the other Vikings took advantage of the extra attention paid to Hagan and generated a 10-2 run, expanding the Frederick school’s lead to 38-22.

“On our team we all certain things that we have to do to win, I was just me doing my part to win,” said Hagan. “Other people hit three’s, other play good defense; I was just doing my part.”

“We wanted to go inside out a lot,” said Henry. “A lot of teams double and triple team Chirstine and that give the girls open shots. The girls looked to pass the ball around and get the ball to Christine in the middle.”

St. John’s bench outscored Catholic 19-8. On the defensive end, the Vikings applied their full court trap and picked up six turnovers that lead to 10 points as their lead ballooned to 22 points in the fourth.

“It came down to consistency in the game, we’re a really fast team and we wore them down towards the end,” said Pierce.

“We really practice that full court trap and we make adjustments to what other teams are doing,” said Henry. “We made adjustments to cut off the middle and cover their wings that were streaking down the side and that it difficult for them to make that next pass.”

Seeking its first crown since 2001, Catholic held a three-point in the early stages before the Vikings responded with an 8-0 run to close the first quarter. They never trailed again.

The Vikings scored 10 of the first 14 points in the second quarter to push the lead into double-digits at 26-13.  Catholic got the lead down to 28-20 at halftime but wasn’t able to respond to Vikings’ stanza to start the second half.

“This win benefited somebody, unfortunately it was not for us,” said Catholic coach Mulligan Burns. Linsday Torbeck led Catholic with 13.

St. John’s Catholic is the first team to win back-to-back C crowns since Arlington Baptist in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The entire roster is set to return next season, led by Hagans.

“Her [Hagans] being down there is really big help for us,” said Vikings sophomore guard Shannon Greene. “When she is down there, she just gets the rebound above every else and gets it back up.”

IAAM C Conference Championship

at Goucher College

St. John’s Catholic Prep 59, Catholic 38

St. John’s Catholic1612151659
Catholic: L. Torbeck 13, Winborne 12, Abrams 5, Buynum 5, C. Torbeck 2, Pope 1. Total: 12 12-20 38.
St. John’s Catholic: M. Pierce 12, Hagan 11, B. Pierce 8, Barrientos 7, Truxillo 6, Greene 5, Rimel 4, Jones 4, Wilson 2. Total: 24 10-19 59.
Halftime: St. John’s Catholic 28, Catholic 20