Saint Michael edges RMA for DAC title
WARRENTON- Late in the first quarter on Saturday Saint Michael girls coach Alex Johnson gave her team “the look.”
“She gave us the look,” confirmed senior Nicole Collins.
Collins, a guard, had just received the Delaney Athletic Conference Division II girls player of the year award. She recorded a double-double for the winning Warriors, who pounced on Randolph-Macon Academy 57-46 to take what Collins said was the first DAC II championship of any kind for a girls team at the Fredericksburg school.
R-MC finished its season at 13-7.
“The look means that we’d better start playing defense and taking better shots,” said Collins, who hit nine of them–including two from 3-point range – for 29 points to go with her 11 rebounds and five steals.
“Mostly we talked about boxing out and rebounding. We knew we could play better than this,” said Johnson.
And that’s what they did. Led by Collins and senior teammate Caroline Parker the Warriors (12-1) went on a run that was briefly halted in the fourth quarter to take the crown.
Parker scored 19 points and hauled down 12 rebounds for Saint Michael. Anna Dragan brought down nine boards.
Liana Trupiano led the Yellow Jackets (13-7) with 13 points, while teammates Julia Norton (12) and Lily Ruch (10) provided able assistance. Ruch made four steals before fouling out and Norton added seven rebounds for coach Jeff Moxie’s team.
It took Randolph-Macon almost four minutes to score but when it did, it poured in points – 10 straight as a matter-of-fact to open a 10-2 lead at Highland School’s gym.
St. Michael coach Johnson had no other choice but to call a timeout with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Afterward, the Warriors coach and players were glad she did.
Immediately, St. Michael ripped off 11 straight points to go ahead 13-10. Norton slowed the Warriors down momentarily with a hoop to snap the Yellow Jackets’ scoreless skein. But then the Warriors again rallied.
They would score 6 straight points for a 19-12 lead with 4:18 to go in the first half.
Again Norton scored and again the Warriors increased their lead.
The teams traded baskets until another 3 by Collins found the net. That was followed by a goal by Dragan to make it 30-18 with 1:22 left in the half.
But after R-MA reserve Dani Lesko and Norton scored 4 straight points, the Warriors turned the ball over.
Sensing a changing of game momentum, Saint Michael’s Collins retrieved the ball and cashed two charity shots.
Yellow Jacket Kimmie Pitts secured a pair of free throws and Lesko converted another fastbreak to cut the Warrior lead to 8, where it stood when the period ended.
Saint Michael opened a 42-30 lead about 30 seconds into the fourth period, but the Yellow Jackets deposited 10 straight points. Trupiano scored a big 3 and Ruch tallied four scores in the sweep.
It was 42-40 deficit with five minutes left.
“I just wanted to give my teammates a lift,” said Trupiano. “I wanted them to know that we could make it back.”
But just like that, a regrouped Collins turned the momentum back to her team.
She made a pair of free throws and after R-MC’s Trupiano answered with a field goal, Collins scored twice on two runouts and her teammate, Parker, recovered a rebound for another score and a 50-42 score with 2:51 left.
The Yellow Jackets got it down to a 6-point spread but Collins made the last six points to end the game.
She was on the DAC II first team along with Parker, while Yellow Jackets Pitts and Ruch also earned first-team mention.
R-MC coach Jeff Moxie shared coach of the year honors with Saint Michael’s Johnson.
As it turned out, turnovers proved to be Randolph-Macon’s doing. They let the other team have the ball on mistakes 34 times. St. Michael retorted wit 21 miscues.
The bulk of the Yellow Jackets’ turnovers occurred in the second and third quarters.
“We have a hard time playing anybody for 32 minutes to tell you the truth. They called that time out and …. Collins is a great player, there’s no doubt about that . She deserves everything she gets,” Moxie said.
Warriors 57, Yellow Jackets 46
Score by quarters
Saint Michael 2 30 6 19-57
Randolph-Macon 10 10 10 16-46
Saint Michael (12-1)
Collins 9 9-10 29, Link 0 0-0 0, Dragan 2 0-2 7, Parker 9 1-2 19, Rivera 1 0-0 2, Totals
20 10-13 57
Norton 6 0-0 12, Trupiano 4 5-5 14, Ruch 5 0-0 10, Pitts 0 2-4 2, Walker 1 0-0 2, Lesko 3 0-0 6, Totals 20 7-9 46
3-point shots: Saint Michael 2 (Collins 2); R-MA 1 (Trupiano 1)