Hijjah Allen Paisley knew the shots would eventually start falling.
Finding more of an offensive rhythm, the sophomore was a catalyst as the top-seeded Cathedral girls’ basketball team broke away from a 22-all game at halftime for convincing 60-43 semifinal victory over Notre Dame-Worcester at Framingham High Wednesday night.
“We worked too hard just to come this far,” said Allen-Paisley, who hit four 3-pointers in a 21-point, 5-rebound, and 4-steal performance. “We were in the locker room, saying we’ve just got to pick it up.”
Cathedral will face No. 3 Wahconah in the state final Sunday (4 p.m.) at the Tsongas Center.
Freshman Keyona Raines (13 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals) had 1 point at the break, but she helped fuel a 23-point third quarter. She had four layups, and also converted her own put-back plus the free throw.
“I had a lot of growth,” said Raines. “[From] playing sloppy and not having confidence to to having confidence being able to be more of a leader and really help them out.”
NDA senior Avery Marzo, fresh off a 33-point performance in a triple-overtime quarterfinal win over Cohasset, found ways to breach the defense for 18 points, 8 of which came in the second quarter.
Cathedral (19-3) does not boast a size advantage, but itsactive defense stifled ball movement and created turnovers. The Rebels (19-5) responded by looking for transition opportunities, but when the Panthers’ offense got more efficient in the second half, so did their defense.
“We’re always the smaller team,” Cathedral coach Clinton Lassiter said. “You can never get taller, but you can always get faster and in better shape. We want to wear them down piece by piece.”
Added Lassiter: “Once we get going, our tempo and our momentum can carry us, and I think that’s what happened in the third quarter.”
Wahconah 86, Littleton 35 — The third-seeded Warriors (21-3) hit 18 3-pointers in the semifinal romp at Springfield Sci-Tech.
In just three quarters, juniors Olivia Gamberoni and Grace Wigington, and freshman Madison McCarthy teamed up for 59 points, with Wigington (six 3-pointers) delivering a team-high 24.
Wahconah is making its first state final appearance since 2002.
Division 5 State
Millis 54, Hoosac Valley 47 — Was it nerve-wracking? Certainly. But Millis sophomore guard Lindsey Grattan (team-high 20 points) calmly stepped to the line and drained 10 straight free throws in the final five minutes to finish off the semifinal victory for top-seeded Mohawks (16-8) at Springfield Sci-Tech.
“I just focused, silenced the crowd,” Grattan said after Millis secured its first trip to the state final since 2016. The Mohawks, who won Division 4 titles in 2009, 2014, and 2015, will take on Springfield International at the Tsongas Center Sunday (12 p.m.).
Millis controlled the boards against a physical opponent, Hoosac Valley (19-5), the fourth seed.
In order to prepare for the physicality, Millis coach David Fallon had his players work against the Mohawk boys’ team in practice.
“I think rebounding was what was best,” Fallon said. “They were very physical, so we worked with the boys the last few days and just worked on rebounding”
Senior Mia Molinari (13 points) and junior Hailey Basset (12 points) contributed double-figure efforts.
Junior guard Taylor Garabedian led the Hurricanes with 19 points.
AJ Traub reported from Framingham and Matt Skillings from Springfield.
AJ Traub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.