Xaverian Girls’ Hoops Team Runners-Up as City Champs

Xaverian’s varsity girls’ basketball team finished in second place in the GCHSAA Tier 1 city championship tournament, falling on March 4 to Msgr. Scanlan H.S. (Photo: Jim Mancari)

The Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, girls’ varsity basketball team gave it everything they had, but the team fell March 4 in the GCHSAA Tier 1 city championship game, 62-46, to Msgr. Scanlan H.S., the Bronx, at St. John’s Prep, Astoria.

This is Scanlan’s second-straight city title. They’ll move on to the GCHSAA state championship, to be played at Christ the King H.S., Middle Village.

After a 9-4 regular season, the Clippers entered the city championship playoffs with the No. 3 seed and received a first round bye. Xaverian took down St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, by 12 points in the second round to set up a semifinal matchup with local girls’ basketball powerhouse Christ the King.

In a close game the entire way, Xaverian came out on top with a three-point victory to earn a chance to take on the defending cham- pion and No. 1-ranked Scanlan — an athletic team known for its ability to knock down outside shots.

In the finals, Msgr. Scanlan spent the first few minutes scoring at will. As fans were still settling in stands, Scanlan went on a 16-2 run to begin the game, forcing Xaverian head coach Mark Spelman to take an early timeout.

“We knew going into the game that Scanlan is a really good team and a team that could go on big runs with the way they shoot the three,” said Spelman, a 1992 Xaverian graduate. “We need to fight through them and know we’ll go on ours as well. I told them we’re still here, and we’re not going away.”

Down 14 after the first quarter, the Clippers started to pick up their perimeter shooting in the second frame. Senior guard and team co-captain Kara Wehner poured in eight points in the quarter, but each time, Scanlan had an answer and maintained the 14-point lead at halftime.

As the second half began, the Clippers emerged from the locker room with lots of energy and momentum. A 3-pointer from Wehner got the Clippers going, and soon the Scanlan lead was down to single digits at nine. Yet even as Xaverian picked up its defensive press, Scanlan continued to make big shot after big shot. That same 14-point lead stuck through three quarters.

Early in the fourth, a driving layup by Xaveri- an sophomore guard and GCHSAA All-League selection Grace Lanier again got the Clippers inside single digits. Scanlan though kept responding as the minutes ticked away en route to winning their second title in as many years.

Wehner scored a team-high 14 points to go along with four assists. Senior forward Charlotte Mitchell — winner of the GCHSAA’s John Moran Sportsmanship Award — tallied eight points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore forward Alexandra Carbonaro had seven points and six rebounds, while Lanier finished with five points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Freshman guard Callie Mullin — niece of former NBA star Chris Mullin and daughter of former St. John’s University, Jamaica, guard Terence Mullin — added 12 points and three rebounds off the bench.

Throughout the journey, the Clippers showed their guts against a few formidable opponents.

“From the start it was all about unity,” Wehner said. “I believe that we could do anything, as long as we stuck together. When everyone believed in that, it was fun to watch us. We trusted each other out there.”

Only two seniors — Wehner and Mitchell — will graduate, leaving the Clippers’ core intact. There was a time during the city championship game that Xaverian fielded a lineup of three sophomores, one junior, and one freshman – all of whom are set to return next season.

“The scoreboard never tells the whole story,” Spelman said. “We’re probably one of the younger teams in the league. We’re trying to build a program that can compete on that level with the top teams, and I think we’re getting there.

“For a young program, we’ve shown ourselves very well in the last couple of years. I’m proud that we have great kids who happen to be really good basketball players.”

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