The Burlington girls’ basketball team was tired. After playing one game per week through a pandemic-abbreviated season, the Red Devils played three games in four days as part of the Middlesex League 12 tournament, hosting Arlington in the final on Saturday morning.
“We were all dead [tired] this week,” said senior guard Marina Callahan. “[Friday] at practice was brutal. I was like, ‘This is not good.’ We all pushed through. We wanted to win this game. This was our goal for the season.”
Trailing Arlington by 3 points entering the fourth quarter, the Red Devils rallied in the final eight minutes for a riveting 43-40 victory to cap a 13-0 season.
“All year we have focused on being in the possession, in the moment,” Burlington coach Pam MacKay said. “We have struggled all week scoring, so it was great to see that confidence come back on the offensive end, shoot the ball well and attack the basket better. They did everything I could have asked for.”
The Assumption-bound Callahan was the catalyst, scoring 11 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth, punctuated by a pair of 3-pointers.
“Sometimes you just look at that girl and you are like, ‘Who is going to stop you?’” MacKay said. “At the end of the day, Marina is an over 6-foot guard with a skill set that can score at every level.”
Her size was critical with 30 seconds left, and the game tied at 40. Callahan drove to the basket, hit a floater, was fouled, and completed the 3-point play for the final.
“My legs hurt, my ankle has been sprained for a week, but it doesn’t matter. Last high school game ever,” Callahan said.
“I’m going to go home and take a nap,” she added.
Sophomore Liv Pena added 11 points for Burlington. Senior captain Ava Connolly led Arlington with 14.
St. Mary’s 46, Bishop Fenwick 40 — Capping their 23-game journey in the midst of pandemic (with a 14-day pause, the Spartans (20-3) surged to a fast start, opening up a 20-point cushion, and then withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Crusaders (11-5) to capture the Catholic Central League Cup.
With senior standout Maiya Bergdorf rendered ineffective by early foul trouble, host St. Mary’s used a smothering defense to hold Fenwick to 10 points in the first half, building a 20-point lead late in the third quarter.
Senior Nicolette D’Itria picked up the slack for St. Mary’s with a team-high 15 points and some key 3-pointers that widened the gap in the third.
“Points were hard to come by, but I thought our defense was the story of the game, especially in the first three quarters,” said St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall, whose team withstood Fenwick’s closing 21-5 rally that whittled the Spartans’ lead to 4 points.
Sophomore point guard Yirsy Queliz (9 points, 6 assists, 6 steals) was a blur, jumping passing lanes and diving on the floor for loose balls.
“She just influences the game, at both ends, on every possession,” Newhall said. “She’s in the middle of everything we do on both ends.”
In the abbreviated season, Newhall took pride in his team’s toughness and attitude.
“There was plenty of opportunity to say ‘I’m tired. I don’t have my legs today. I’m hurt. I’m worn down after playing too many games,’” he said. “We never had any of that.”
Olivia Found had 24 points and 6 steals for Fenwick.
Hanover 50, Whitman-Hanson 43 — The host Hawks (11-4) relied heavily upon their team defense to capture the Patriot Cup, the same way they had all season.
“All season long we’ve been hanging our hat on our defense,” said Hanover coach Brian Fisher. “Our motto was offense wins games but defense wins championships, and today it did.”
The Hawks struggled throughout the first half to capitalize offensively, recording only one one field goal in the second quarter.
“Our defense kept us in it and gave us a chance,” Fisher said. “Offensively, we just needed to settle down and execute plays.”
The Hawks came alive after the half, sparked by junior Dani Tilden (13 points) and senior Emily Flynn (13 points).
“Dani has been so clutch for us this year and was again today and Emily is our pace setter and has been a leader all year,” Fisher said.
The Hawks watched last year’s season come to an end in the first round of the MIAA tournament after taking top seeded Norwood to overtime, and that experience proved valuable in this year’s league tournament.
“We knew we had a good team this year and that game against Norwood last year gave us some confidence and this team just got better and better all year,” said Fisher.
Ethan Fuller and Ethan McDowell contributed.