PITTSBURG — Both of the St. Mary’s-Colgan basketball teams earned spots in the state tournament after winning the sub-state championship games on Saturday.
The Lady Panthers began the night with a 41-28 win over Pleasanton, before the boys' team followed up with a 57-53 win over Maranatha Christian.
SMC GIRLS WIN SUB-STATE
Strong defense was a big factor for the Lady Panthers, as they continued frustrate opponents throughout the sub-state tournament en route to defeating Pleasanton 41-28 to claim a spot in the sub-state championship.
“It’s a relief,” SMC head coach Abby Farabi said. “We’ve been working for this all season long and have played in a lot of close games. This has been one of goals all season long and I’m just happy that the kids get this opportunity.”
Colgan held the Blue Jays to under 10 points for a majority of the contest while building a double-digit lead in the first half and sealed the win with quality free throw shooting in the final minutes.
“I honestly think we’re able to hold these teams to low scores because of the competition we play in the CNC,” Farabi said. “We tell our kids that even if we don’t play well offensively, our defense should give us a chance to win. I think we did a great job on the boards and I just thought we really bought in tonight on the defensive end.”
The Panthers began to gain offensive momentum in a slow-paced first half, scoring 12 consecutive points between the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter to mount a 16-7 lead.
The 12-0 run was highlighted by four points from Marci VanBecelaere and included three points by Aubri Piccini.
SMC made it a double-digit advantage at 19-7 by scoring the first three points of the third quarter, with one point coming from Cathy Farmer and two from VanBecelaere.
Pleasanton pulled to within seven points of the lead after a 7-2 run, but the Panthers answered with an 8-1 run to begin the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 31-15.
Kaitlin Radell had a big hand in run, scoring six of the Panthers’ eight points.
Farmer paced the Panthers’ offense with a team-high 10 points.
VanBecelaere finished close behind with eight points to go along with 11 rebounds.
SMC BOYS FOLLOW SUIT
The Colgan boys’ team trailed throughout a majority the first three quarters of play before a inspired comeback in the fourth lifted the Panthers to a 57-53 over Maranatha Christian in the sub-state championship game.
“That was a great high school basketball team played by two great teams,” SMC head coach Wayne Cichon said. “Both teams were going at each other the last few minutes and the game kept going back and forth. I was really pleased with our overall effort. I don’t think Maranatha lost it, I think we went out and won it.”
Colgan pulled to within two points of the Eagles at 36-34 after Aaron Higginbotham hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter, before going on to take the lead in the fourth.
The Eagles split a pair of free throws to begin the final eight minutes of regulation to extend the lead to three, but four consecutive points by Higginbotham gave the Panthers their first lead of the game since scoring the opening points of the contest.
Maranatha went on to regain the lead at 43-42 with five minutes remaining in the contest, Jeremiah Buche immediately put SMC back on top at45-43 with a 3-pointer in the following possession.
The Panthers began to pull away from there, out scoring the Eagles 12-7 in the final four minutes of the game to earn the comeback win.
Higginbotham was the engine of the Panthers’ offense, scoring 20 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.