Academy's effort falls short

St. Petersburg Catholic makes a last-second shot to beat Academy of the Holy Names 47-45.

By JUSTIN DARGAHI Times Correspondent
Published December 31, 2006

TAMPA - After fighting all game, Academy of the Holy Names finally tied it up - before a freshman ripped the game from them.

Jerrica Coley hit a 5-footer at the buzzer to lead St. Petersburg Catholic to a 47-45 win over the Jaguars in the Keeler Memorial Tournament championship.

"You gotta love freshmen," Barons coach Nick Vandewalle said. "I don't think she was scared at all. She is a good player and will become a great player."

Academy (17-1) dug itself into a 26-13 halftime deficit, unable to stop 6-foot-3 center Sasha Chaplin, who recorded a double double in the first half alone. Facing a double-team in the second half, Chaplin finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The Academy's Gianna Messina scored 20 of her game-high 24 in the second half, including four shots from behind the arc.

Academy outscored the Barons 20-11 in a wild third quarter to cut the lead to 37-35 heading into the fourth.

"We didn't play how we wanted to in the second half," Vandewalle said. "After that, I knew it would come down to the end."

St. Petersburg Catholic (13-4) went back up by five with two minutes to go after a 3-pointer from Holly Janicki.

Gianna's sister, Catriana, answered with a 3 to tie it at 45 with seven seconds to go.

After a timeout, the Barons got past Academy's full-court press with two seconds left and the loose ball went right to Coley for the winner.

Coley and Chaplin made the all-tournament team, as well as the Messina sisters from the Academy. St. Petersburg Catholic junior Kate Carl, who finished the game with 10 points, was named the tournament's MVP.

In the third-place game, Clearwater defeated Blake 56-43.