Weekly Feature



2014-03-05 / Sports

O’Hara captures Monsignor Martin Class A championship with blowout win against Nardin

Girls basketball
BRANDON KILIJANSKI
Sports Reporter


Cardinal O’Hara senior Jontay Walton puts up a running teardrop in the middle of three Nardin defenders in the Monsignor Martin Class A championship game on Saturday night held at Canisius College. The Lady Hawks won the game 70-43, earning the right to play in the state semifinals on Friday in New York City. 
Photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Cardinal O’Hara senior Jontay Walton puts up a running teardrop in the middle of three Nardin defenders in the Monsignor Martin Class A championship game on Saturday night held at Canisius College. The Lady Hawks won the game 70-43, earning the right to play in the state semifinals on Friday in New York City. Photo by Daniel RosatiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com After winning the Monsignor Martin regular-season championship with an undefeated league record — and being the heavy favorite during playoffs — Cardinal O’Hara did not disappoint on Saturday night with a 70-43 victory against Nardin to win the Monsignor Martin Class A Championship and earn the right to advance to the state semifinals.

Heading into the championship game, O’Hara had easily taken care of Mount St. Mary’s in the semifinals — while Nardin squeaked out a one-point victory against Sacred Heart.

In front of a large crowd at Canisius College, Nardin was able to get off to a hot start, taking a quick 5-0 lead. But that lead was quickly washed away, and O’Hara never let Nardin back in the game afterward.

Freshman Cori Dickson was in the starting lineup and scored the Lady Hawks first five points of the game to tie it up at 5-5. That was just the beginning of a 14-2 run that O’Hara put together in the first quarter.

On defense, O’Hara was all over the place, forcing many Nardin turnovers. Freshman Shilah Parker came off the bench in the first quarter and immediately made an impact by making an 18-foot jump shot and then running back on defense to block a Nardin layup from behind.

The Lady Hawks held an 18-11 lead entering the second quarter, which was when senior Jontay Walton put on a scoring clinic.

The Monsignor Martin girls all-time leading scorer put up 12 points in the second quarter. After Nardin hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 18-15, Walton went right down the floor for a bucket and opened the lead back to five.

That basket started a 13-3 run, which lasted until 3:45 left before halftime. During that span, Walton dropped a three and then added a three-point play — with a layup and the foul — to make it a 31-18 game.

The Lady Hawks entered halftime with a 36-23 lead.

Walton scored 12 of O’Hara’s 18 points in the second quarter — while Nardin as a team also put up 12 in the quarter — and she had 16 in the first half.

“That’s Jontay being Jontay, and that’s what we’ve come to expect from her each game,” head coach Dan McDermott said. “That was just another fine performance by her.”

Walton entered the game just 50 points shy of the 2,000 mark in her career, and finished with a team-high 24.

“I just wanted to win the game and win the championship to get to New York, that was my focus,” said Walton.

In the second half, Walton picked up where she left off by adding another three-point play after getting fouled on a contested layup. With 1:22 left in the third quarter, Walton hit one of two free throws to give her 22 points in the game — and at that time Nardin had scored just 27 as a team up to that point.

Her counterpart — fellow senior Keyonte Edwards — also went on a scoring spree as she put up eight points in the third quarter. Half of those came right at the end of the quarter, as she scored quickly after a turnover and got the last bucket before the buzzer to make it a 54-27 lead. Edwards finished the game with 11 points.

In the fourth quarter, Dickson added six points, which included the game’s most athletic score. With 2:40 left on the clock, she snaked through the entire Nardin defense and went up with a right-handed layup after turning away from the rim to the left of the bucket.

Dickson finished the game with 14 points.

In the entire second half, O’Hara kept playing relentless de- fense no matter how much the lead extended to.

“That’s the way we play and that’s the way it has to be,” said McDermott. “We try to make things uncomfortable for the other team, and not a lot of other teams can compare with our style. They might be able to play it for a little while, but not a full 32 minutes like we do.”

“We knew what we had to do coming in, and our bench helped out a lot,” added Walton. “We just came out and the game plan wasn’t any different from when we played them in the regular season. We knew we had to play strong defense.”

After the game, O’Hara was awarded their Monsignor Martin regular-season and Class A championship plaques — followed by the announcement of the All-Catholic awards.

Senior Aisha Shabazz — who did not play against Nardin — was named a Second Team All-Catholic player. Fellow senior Kelsey McCarthy was selected First Team All-Catholic.

Walton and Edwards were named as the All-Catholic Co-MVPs.

“That was definitely very special; I always wanted to play with her,” said Walton of her teammate Edwards. “And now I have that chance, so it’s really special and exciting for both of us to go to New York City for our senior year and share this special moment together.”

O’Hara has to wait until tonight to learn who they will square off against in the Class A state semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m. at St. John’s Preparatory School.

If they win that night, the Lady Hawks will play in the state championship game on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Long Island.

email: brandonk@beenews.com

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