ST. PETERSBURG — A thrilling comeback fell just short as St. Petersburg Catholic’s season ended in a 47-45 loss to Community School of Naples in Saturday’s Class 3A region finals.
“They never, never quit” Barons coach Nick Vandewalle said. “We may not like the outcome, but we made believers.”
While Community School used crisp passing to set up scores, St. Petersburg Catholic (25-5) struggled to find a rhythm most of the game. Annie Artise had 10 of the Barons’ 14 first-half points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Artise scored her first points of the second half as the fourth quarter began. Michelle Halapio followed with a score from under the basket, and Stephanie Lynch drained a 3 to bring the team within six points, the closest they’d been since the second quarter.
The Seahawks pushed their advantage back to 10 before Artise hit another 3 coming out of a timeout. After a pair of free throws by Olivia Keegan, SPC trailed by six with just over a minute remaining.
Following a 35-minute injury delay, Artise sank her fourth 3-pointer of the night. A layup by Christy Lyons brought the Barons to within two. With 10 seconds to go, the Barons had a chance to tie when Brittney Dunbar was fouled while trying a 3-point shot.
Dunbar made just one of the attempts, but the Barons got the ball back after a traveling call with four seconds remaining. Dunbar received the ball outside the arc but was unable to get off a shot as time expired.
The game was delayed for just over a half hour when Lynch was injured while scrambling for the ball near the scorer’s table and another player landed on her. She was taken out on a stretcher. Vandewalle said Lynch bruised her cheek, but he was unaware of her status by game’s end.