As the senior members of the Ursuline basketball team took the floor for Friday night’s state championship game, they reminded each other of the previous four trips to the Bob Carpenter Center that ended in frustration.
And they made sure they wouldn’t have to endure it again.
Guard Meghan Carter and forward Jillian Lyons led a 27-11 run in the final 11 minutes of game action to help the Raiders knock off two-time defending champion Sanford 49-29 for the school’s first state championship in four years.
“I told Jill this was going to be our last time playing together,” said Carter, who scored a game-high 13 points in the win. “We just wanted to go out and play as hard as we can.”
“I definitely came out of the locker room wanting to win,” said Lyons, who scored all 12 of her points in the second half. “I just tried to help us win.”
“Jillian Lyons proved that she’s one of the top players in the state against a Division I college prospect,” Raiders coach John Noonan said of Sanford’s Angie White. “Meghan Carter is our leader and to see her have a breakout game is a great feeling.”
The second-seeded Raiders (20-4) took a 20-11 early in the third quarter, but Sanford junior guard Johanna McMillan led a small Warrior burst to get within four points (22-18) with 3:13 to go in the third quarter. McMillan and White led Sanford with 10 points each on the evening.
Top-seeded Sanford (19-5) would get no closer as the trio of Carter, Lyons and freshman guard Adrianna Hahn combined for 22 of Ursuline’s last 27 points, with a Carter three-pointer and a Lyons jumper on back to back possessions pushing the lead to 45-25 with with 3:31 to go in the game.
It was a celebration from that point forward as this was the first championship for Noonan and his seniors after falling short in three previous final four trips.
“We didn’t even talk about winning a championship when the season started,” Noonan admitted. “We just talked about getting better as a team each today and we were able to do that.”
“It’s a great feeling,” Lyons said. “When I came here, I knew about all the championships, so I thought [winning] was possible.”
“When you talk about the greats of this school and all the championships, it’s great that we were able to keep that tradition going and still have great young players that can win more championships,” Carter said.
E-mail Chris Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org