The St. John’s CYO Cadet seventh-and-eighth-grade girls basketball team is No. 1 in Massachusetts after stunning St. Adelaide’s of Peabody, 28-24, in the championship game Saturday at Milton High School.
St. Adelaide’s had defeated St. John’s by 20 points in the North Shore CYO League championship game, but Winthrop somehow found a way to reverse that outcome and take home the crown.
“They beat us by 20 in the league playoffs so we knew we had a tough task but we had a couple of practices, reviewed our strategy, and managed to take home an incredible victory,” said St. John’s head coach Steve Mahoney, who was assisted by Gary Grillo and Kelley Mahoney.
Nina Bartlett, a 5-foot-11-inch eighth grader, was St. John’s leading scorer in the game. St. John’s guards Shannon Mahoney, Olivia Grillo, and Allie Love did a great job handling Peabody’s full-court defensive pressure.
“That was the key to the game; last time we had a lot of problems with their press,” said Mahoney.
A three-pointer by forward Meg Dolan late in the second gave St. John’s a one-point lead that changed the momentum of the game.
Guards Rachel Torres and Regina Garufo played excellent defense. Rebecca Evans and Caitlin Egan have been key rebounders throughout the season. Missing from action was Taylor Thomas due to injury.
St. John’s finished the regular season with a 10-4 record to take the sixth seed in the playoffs. St. John’s defeated the No. 7, No. 3, and No. 1 seeds before falling to No. 2 seed St. Adelaide’s in the finals.
St. John’s will begin play in the New England CYO Tournament next weekend in Vermont.
St. John’s CYO last won the New England girls’ title when Deb and Mike Soper coached a talented team that included their daughter, Meredith, who is playing basketball at Bryant University, Courtney Finn, who is playing for Bentley in the Division 2 national tournament, and Katerina Mallios, who is playing for Babson College.