If Tuesday’s games were any indication, there will be some incredibly close basketball played in Game 2 of both the senior and junior girls high school championship series on Thursday.
Game 1 of both best-of-three series were settled by a single point.
The North Park Collegiate Trojans remained perfect against local competition thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Sarah Minutillo with 30 seconds remaining in the game to beat the St. John’s College Green Eagles 39-38 and take a 1-0 series lead in the junior game.
In the senior contest, the St. John’s College Green Eagles clung to a 44-43 lead – earned by a Kendra VanLeeuwen free throw with 15 seconds remaining – to take a 1-0 series lead against the Assumption College Lions.
Both series resume on Thursday with the junior Trojans and Green Eagles squaring off in Game 2 at 5:30 p.m. and the senior Lions and Green Eagles taking the court at 7 p.m.
Game 3, if necessary for either series, will be played on Monday.
Minutillo’s clutch three-pointer sealed the deal for the Trojans in a win that saw them have to climb out of several deficits against the Green Eagles.
Minutillo said taking the game-winning shot wasn’t part of a planned play.
“It was just habit, muscle-memory to take the open shot,” she said. “I had a good feeling about it after I released it.”
Instead of a clutch shot, it was consistent three-balls that made the difference in the senior game.
Megan Thompson had a game-high 21 points for St. John’s, including several pivotal shots from beyond the arc.
The Lions held several early leads in the ball game, but accurate three-point shooting turned the tide for St. John’s in the third quarter.
In less than a minute, the Eagles turned a 29-22 Lions lead into a 31-29 Eagles lead when Thompson, Bridget Monkman and then Thompson again hit consecutive three-pointers.
“We were just taking advantage of the opportunities we had,” Thompson said. “It’s just the way it went.”
The Lions would fight back from their own deficit in the fourth quarter. The team was down 41-33 early on, but tied the game 43-43 with just 21 seconds left.
VanLeeuwen then went to the line on a foul call and hit one of her two free throws to make it 44-43.
After the Lions final play broke down, there was a mad scramble to try and score a final basket, but time expired on Assumption’s chances.
“We know what we have to work on to stay successful next game,” Thompson said. “And we know how intense it’s going to be.”