HAMILTON — The Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team found itself in all-too-familiar territory preparing for last night’s Division 3 North semifinal against Catholic Central League rival St. Mary’s of Lynn.
The Crusaders had lost to the powerful Spartans twice during the regular season, but felt they had the chance to finally chance to get by one of their most physical opponents with the right game plan. Unfortunately, St. Mary’s had other ideas.
Despite injuring her ankle in the game prior, Catholic Central League Player of the Year Brianna Rudolph put her team on her back as the Spartans downed Fenwick, 68-35 at the Hamilton-Wenham Regional gymnasium.
“You knew you had to play St. Mary’s at some point (in the tournament),” said Fenwick (13-8) head coach Adam DeBaggis. “We wanted to play them a third time. We played them really well the second time we played them (a 10-point loss), so we felt pretty good about it, actually.”
With the win, the Spartans (21-2) earned a bid to the North final Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, where they’ll play the winner of tonight’s Winthrop/Manchester-Essex game.
Rudolph went off for 12 of her game-high 36 points in the first quarter as St. Mary’s took a 14-9 lead. Fenwick senior captain Kate Lipka kept her team in the game early on, knocking down numerous jumpers in the opening frame.
St. Mary’s offense was too much for Fenwick to shut down, though, as it took a convincing 28-16 advantage into halftime behind Rudolph’s 21 first half points.
“She’s the best player on the court and played that way,” noted St. Mary’s head coach Jeff Newhall. “Certainly in the first half she was the person that seemed more in rhythm of the game than anyone else.