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St. Luke's girls basketball team's rally falls short against Sacred Heart

Updated 3:05 pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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As hot as the Convent of the Sacred Heart basketball team was from the perimeter during the first half of Tuesday's game against St. Luke's School, that's how cold the visiting Storm were.

While Claire O'Neill and Kayla Souza put on a shooting clinic for the Tigers in the opening half, St. Luke's struggled to find its range, thanks in large part, to Sacred Heart's tenacious defense.

O'Neill scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers, Souza added 10 points and center Emily O'Sullivan had nine for Sacred Heart in its 50-39 FAA victory over St. Luke's.

The Tigers (9-4, 4-1 FAA), who received seven points and heady play from point guard Colleen O'Neill and eight points off the bench from center Shelby Holland, snapped a two-game losing skid.

"We knew this was a very important game, especially coming off two tough losses," said Souza, a senior shooting guard. "We came into this game with our goals being to execute our plays and play good defense right from the start."

Using an impressive 25-5 run over 10-minute span, the Tigers seized a 25-7 lead and never looked back. Claire O'Neill, a sophomore shooting guard, helped sparked the spurt, making two 3-pointers for the defending FAA champion Tigers.

"Today, we came out firing and were really pumped up," O'Neill said. "In the huddle before the game, I always say `play like champions,' and everything clicked out there for us. We need to come out firing like we did today, every game."

Forward Sydney Lowery made the game's first basket in transition, but the Storm (3-7, 2-6 FAA) managed just three points the next 10 minutes. Applying a full court press, the Tigers made it difficult for the visitors to get into rhythm offensively.

"Our defense is a key part to our game," said CSH junior forward Bridget Scaturro, who got her hands in the passing lane and deflected numerous passes throughout. "Strong defense leads to a great offense, so if we're loose on defense we don't have the confidence to execute on offense. Defense is the foundation for everything else."

O'Sullivan scored on a putback, Claire O'Neill swished a pair of 3-pointers from the right side, Colleen O'Neill converted a layup and Souza hit a shot from beyond the arc, putting the Storm in a 16-5 hole midway through the opening half. The home team entered halftime with a commanding 32-14 advantage.

"When our shooters are doing well and hitting shots it opens the rest of the court," said junior Colleen O'Neill, Claire's sister. "We wanted to start off the game with high intensity, which is what we've been lacking the past couple of games."

O'Sullivan made back-to-back baskets in the low post to start the second half for Sacred Heart, which executed well against St. Luke's man-to-man. Tigers third-year coach Sean Green, who substituted freely in the second half, is beginning to see his squad round into form.

"Initially, we looked really good today," Green said. "We want to repeat as league champions, but we have to get that hunger that we had last year. Hopefully, we are on an upward trend and hopefully, we're starting to pull it together."

O'Sullivan grabbed eight rebounds, while Claire O'Neill had five for the victors. St. Luke's received a game-high 16 points from Sydney Lowery.

"I'm very happy with how we played in the second half," Storm coach Jennifer Pokorney said. "We executed our offense, which we didn't do in the first half. We were a bit more patient and let things open up. I'm still waiting for that breakout game, where everything comes together for us."

Up next for Sacred Heart is a key FAA matchup against host Rye Country Day School on Thursday.

"This is a big win that we really needed, now we're very excited for Thursday against Rye Country Day and we're looking forward to challenging King next week too," Souza said.

david.fierro@scni.com;

203-625-4423

CSH 50, St. Luke's 35

ST. LUKE'S..........................................14 25 -- 39

SACRED HEART...................................32 18 -- 50

ST. LUKE'S (39)

Kathleen Kelly 2 0-1 4; Sydney Lowery 7 0-1 16; Lauren Britt 1 2-4 4; Kai Burton 1 0-3 2; Ayotunde Johnson 1 2-2 4; Katherine Hamill 1 0-0 2; Taylor Callaghan 1 0-0 2; Nijah Wilson 1 1-3 3; Meagan Maguire 1 0-0 2; Emma O'Brien 0 0-0 0; Abigail Vaske 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 5-14 39.

SACRED HEART (50)

Claire O'Neill 4 2-2 13; Bridget Scaturro 1 0-0 2; Colleen O'Neill 3 1-2 7; Kayla Souza 3 2-5 10; Emily O'Sullivan 4 1-2 9; Shelby Holland 4 0-0 8; Maya Bond 0 1-2 1; Grace Passannante 0 0-0 0; Grace Jorgensen 0 0-0 0; Madison Sirabella 0 0-1 0; Amanda Crowell 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 7-14 50.

3-pointers: CSH -- Claire O'Neill 3, Souza 2; SL -- Sydney Lowery 2.

Records: SH 9-4, 4-1 FAA; St. Luke's 3-7, 2-6 FAA.