By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — For three quarters last night, the Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team struggled to find its game.
But the Crusaders turned on a switch over in the final eight minutes to pull off a come-from-behind 54-48 victory over Stoneham in a Division 3 first round game at St. John’s Prep.
Stoneham ended Fenwick’s season two years ago the last time they were in the playoffs, and heading into the fourth quarter trailing by 10 points it appeared it might happen again. But the final quarter was all Fenwick, who outscored the Spartans, 20-4.
The 8th seed Crusaders put together a 12-0 run to pull ahead early in the quarter as Gianna Pizzano and Rose Fantozzi each had two baskets during that stretch. Sam Borelli made an old fashioned three-point play, and Fantozzi made a foul shot to put Fenwick ahead, 46-44 with just over five minutes remaining.
“We’re a really good team and we pick each other up when we make mistakes,” said Fenwick (15-8) coach Adam DeBaggis. “At halftime I told the girls to calm down and enjoy playing in a big game like this. They were all so nervous, which is understandable because only Kate Lipka has tournament experience.
“They never gave up, and good things happen to people that work hard. Our leadership is so good they know how to stay up even when things aren’t going their way.”
Kate Lipka led Fenwick with 17 points, six steals, seven rebounds and a block.
Stoneham (12-9) regained the lead late in the fourth quarter after Stephanie Bramante (game-high 22 points) made a layup and was fouled. She made the free throw, and teammate Grace Macura also put in one from the line for a 48-46 Spartan lead with 2:30 remaining.
But it was all Fenwick from that point on as Lipka hit two shots in a row, including one of her three treys. Pizzano (6 points) added a foul shot, and freshman Sydney Brennan made a pair of free throws to put the game away.
“We came into this game ready and took over in the fourth quarter,” said Lipka, who had struggled early with the long bombs but hit two in the second half to spark her team’s comeback. “I just told Amy Pelletier, ‘This is our revenge.’”
Pelletier, who starred for Fenwick two years ago and was on hand to cheer her former team on last night, is now a standout at Stonehill. DeBaggis and his team went to see Pelletier when they upset Bentley last weekend.
Bramante had 15 points for the Spartans in the first half, but sat down in foul trouble for long stretches in the second half. Fenwick’s Pizzano, freshman Colleen Corcoran and Fantozzi all had four fouls, but DeBaggis took a chance and kept them in the game.
“We rotate Bramante, Olivia Gaughan (6 points), and Britney Fucci (8) equally,” said Stoneham coach Sara Mills. “We were getting inside early, but we rushed our shots all game. We didn’t settle and play our game.
“Fenwick wanted it more than we did. They went for it offensively, boxed out, and got rebounds. That No. 12 (Fantozzi) and 23 (Pizzano) drove to the hole and were getting layups in that fourth quarter.”
Fantozzi had a team high eight rebounds, two blocks, and two steals to go along with her seven points. Kelsey Wilkinson had eight points, and Borelli added five points and six rebounds. Corcoran gave Fenwick a spark with her inside shooting and finished with six points.
The Crusaders will travel to top-seeded Pentucket for a quarterfinal game Saturday at 4 p.m. in West Newbury.
agateHed:Bishop Fenwick 54, Stoneham 48
agate_boldCentered:Division 3 North first round
at St. John’s Prep Gymnasium, Danvers
agate_lineQuarters:Stoneham@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Macura 2-2-7, Buono 0-0-0, Norton 2-0-5, Trant 0-0-0, Walsh 0-0-0, Gaughan 3-0-6, Bramante 6-10-22, Fucci 4-0-8. @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 17-12-48@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Bishop Fenwick@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Rose 0-0-0, Fantozzi 3-1-7, B. Corcoran 0-0-0, Wilder 1-0-2, Borelli 2-1-5, Wilkinson 4-0-8, Pizzano 2-1-5, C. Corcoran 3-0-6, Brennan 1-2-4, Lipka 7-0-17 @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 23-5-54@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Halftime@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Stoneham, 25-19.
agate_lineQuarters:3-pointers@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: S, Macura, Norton; BF, Lipka 3.
agate_lineQuarters:Records@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: BF, ; S, .