IC girls basketball team wins New England Championship
After having captured the Massachusetts State CYO Basketball Championship by defeating Our Lady of Assumption (OLA) of Lynnfield on March 15th, the Immaculate Conception 8th grade girls had to wait two whole weeks to compete for the New England Championship last weekend in Providence R.I.
Representing the Archdiocese of Boston our local 5 was not just happy to be there, they had something to prove. After a week of intense daily practices during which coaches Anthony Palermo and Tim Spinney reinvented their team’s offense, but more importantly their defense. There’s an old saying that “offense wins games, but defense wins championships” and our girls were intent on proving that old saying correct.
In the quarter final game, played at posh St. Mary’s Academy (Bay View R.I.) the Revere squad took on the R.I. State Champs, the undefeated Holy Apostles out of Cranston. From the opening tip our IC group played tight, almost impenetrable defense, and exhibited a well oiled offensive machine with crisp, pinpoint passing and limited turnovers as they dispatched the best Ocean State entry easily by a 46-34 margin. A score that is deceiving because Revere led by as many as 24 in the second half. The win moved our ladies on to the semifinals 4 hours later vs New Hampshire’s CYO champs, the high scoring and undefeated St. Elizabeth Seton squad out of Bedford in the Granite State.
St. Mary’s Academy was once again the scene, and once again the girls of Spinney and Palermo came out disciplined and brimming with confidence and found themselves leading by 12 at halftime. However the Elizabeth Seton team would not go away easily and came storming back to tie the game at 29 with just under 6 minutes to play in the game. Bent but not broken the local entry took the punch and fought back clamping down the “D” and going on an 18-3 run the rest of the way to earn a place in the finals on Sunday with a 47-32 victory.
he CYO finals, held at prestigious Lasalle Academy,was a pressure packed, high energy, raucous atmosphere unlike anything that our girls had ever experienced. With 2 impressive tournament wins under their belts the Revere team had had 18 hours to reflect and prepare mentally for the biggest game of their young lives. Their opponent in the title game was the 4 time defending CYO champ St. Francis Xavier team from Winooski Vermont. They had been here before. They were BIG and their matching blue and gold warmups, emblazoned with “4 Peat”, were quite intimidating as they ran through their intricate pre-game drills. Not only were they an undefeated CYO entry, but one of the premier AAU teams in the 6 state area. If the scowls on the faces of Green Mountain girls were meant to intimidate the undersized girls from Beach St. the strategy failed miserably as an energized, well prepared IC squad came out playing their best defense of the year and jumped out to an 8-0 lead before St. Francis knew what hit them causing the VT team, looking visibly dazed and confused, to call an early time out. When play resumed the defending champs scored in less than 5 seconds and it looked as though they had settled down a bit, but as they had throughout the tournament Revere responded by forcing frequent turnovers with their stifling 2-3 zone defense and running and gunning their way to a 15-4 first quarter lead and the rout was on. The 4 time champions had NO answer for our girls offensively or defensively and Spinney and Palermo emptied the bench as the score bulged to 25 at 42-17 as time wound down in quarter number 4. As the buzzer sounded and our girls stormed the court in celebration knowing that they had DOMINATED three of the best teams that the tournament had to offer and they stood alone as Catholic Youth Organization Champions of New England. No small feat since no Boston Archdiocese girls representative had won it all in recent memory and an accomplishment reminiscent of the glory days of Immaculate Conception athletics and certainly worthy of a Championship plaque in the trophy case and a Championship banner with players and coaches names adorning the wall in Fr.Brennan hall. The following players and coaches enjoy Championship status. Valentina Pepic, Alina Giuliano, Emily Wykes, Marina Robinson, Toni Scearbo, Jasmina Mujic, Taylor Sujko, Jenna Wells, Gabriella Rotondo, and Emily DiGiulio as well as coaches Anthony Palermo and Tim Spinney. Certainly a group that Revere can be proud of.