Arlington Catholic took control of in the second quarter and took a 15-point lead into halftime (31-16). The Cougars wanted to ultimately wear Salem down and expose the limited amount of players on the Witches’ bench.
“John is a friend and I admire what he’s done with the girls,” said AC head coach Dave Brady. “Salem gave so much of themselves physically and they were so banged up. I just think they came in on fumes and they still played us so hard. As the game went on, because of the injuries they had, it seemed like they ran out of fuel.
“We started running and jumping more to create turnovers and it was to wear them down. I think if we didn’t wear them down, it would’ve been a closer game the entire way because of how well they play. No doubt it was going to be a battle, they were trying to stay with us in the end, but we were trying to stay with them in the beginning.”
Gaffney recorded a team-high 10 points and finished the season with 38 three-pointers. Sophomore captain Jackie Panneton added nine points, five of which came from the line, and grabbed seven rebounds.
Arlington Catholic, which got a game-high 12 points from Presley Silva, finished the game on 7-0 run and held Salem to just two points in the final quarter.
“I go out and scout everybody and I know how hard AC plays,” Fortunato said. “Getting ready for that type of pressure with the numbers we have or didn’t have, it was hard to prepare for that. To create that in a practice situation is very difficult.
“It’s always hard when it ends. I’ve always told the girls it’s not so much about the loss, it’s about the end of the season and who you love being with.”