In a four-point game with just 24 seconds to play, it takes a lot of guts and will to advance to the IAAm finals, but the Pats did just that, Thursday, clining to their lead till the final buzzer.

St. Mary’s Melanie Moniak, who already laced three three-pointers in Thursday’s game, planted another one from downtown to bring the Saints to within four-points of a championship berth, but holding strong against the fouling game for the next few moments, Patriot Yemaya Johnson hit her final free-throw for the game winning, 55-50, score.

“They brought the intensity tonight,” patriot coach Mike Blizzard said.  “Tuesday, I wasn’t really happy with the intensity, but tonight, the physical intensity was there.”

The physicality was a large part of one of the biggest turning points in John Carroll’s win, when the Pats held the Saint to a mere four points in the second quarter.

“It keeps you from getting into the type of offensive sets you want to run,” Blizzard said of the physical approach.  “You try and get up in their face and not let them pick off your zone or pick off your man.

“On defense, we want to dictate to you what you can do, and on offense we want to dictate to you what you are able to do.  We are ready for anything they are ready to throw, and that forces them to play the way we want them to play.”

The Patriots outscored the Saints, 12-4, in the second quarter, adding to a two-point lead out of the first to go ahead by 13 by the half, but a strong fourth quarter showing by St. Mary’s would make the Pats sweat till the final buzzer.

John Carroll scored the first two points of the fourth quarter, leading then, 48-32, but the Saints then went on to score 11 unanswered-points, eight of them by Monciak with two three-pointers, to come within five points of the lead.

“She is a real good player because she gets that shot off so quickly,” Blizzard said of Monciak.  “It is hard to mentally play that game.  We were up 16, and if you went to the bathroom, you were coming back and it was down to five because of two threes and what happened in that sequence.  I was sitting going, “Don’t tell me this team is going to go on a run on us.”

But the run was redirected from a victorious path by the Patriots, who opened the game with their own 8-3 run in the first quarter, and nine-point run to send the first half.

“I really think that the second quarter had a huge dent in us,” Saints’ coach Teri Daniels said.  “We can’t go basket for basket with a team like this, especially when we are trailing.  

“I think we did a great job staying in there.  They could have given up whenever they wanted to, but, for the whole four quarters, they competed.”

Moncniak was the obvious point-winner for the Saints, draining four three-pointers in her 20-point game, while teammates Stephanie Lazo and Kelly Broussard finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Saint’s also beat the Pats in rebounding, 29-17, queuing Blizzard to say he was glad he team didn’t keep that statistic.

“It was a great year,” Daniels said of her Saints.  “One game away from the championship, and I think we could have gotten there, but I think we lost to a good team.

“I love this team.  This is a great team with friends and I am going to miss them.”

WolfeEmily Soller was the leading scorer for the Pats, netting 11 points, but other teammates were big scorers for the Pats in the win, seeing Tiffany Clunie and Miranda Ripken for 10 points each, and the duo of Amada Wolfe and Johnson splitting 16 points evenly.

“The beginning of our season, we conditioned for two hours a day for a month straight, and at the end of the season we look back and say that we did a lot more than any other team,” Wolfe recalled.  “We only have 64 minutes left in our basketball season looking at today and Sunday, so we needed to make it count.”

John Carroll now enters Sunday’s IAAM Championship game to take on Notre Dame Prep, in a game that is sure to be filled with emotions.

“Emotions will be high,” Wolfe said of the Sunday match-up.  “Our boys’ team is going to the championship, so the whole school is riled up.  We just have to stay focused, keep our heads in it, and go out Sunday and play some ball.”

“I am happy for them, but our works not done,” Blizzard said.  “We’re not happy going to the Super Bowl, and I want to see the looks on their faces when they win the whole thing, not the tears in their eyes when they fall just short.”

John Carroll 55, St. Mary’s 50

JC      15   12   18   10   —   55
SM    13      4   15   18   —   50