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Cavaliers stunned as Brady rallies for quarterfinal win

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Mar 7, 2020

Telegraph photo by TOM KING Hollis Brookline senior standout Christina Balsamo ponders the sudden end to the Cavaliers season while Bishop Brady celebrates a 70-62 upset win Friday night in the Division II quarterfinals in Hollis.

HOLLIS – They had a stellar regular season, designed to get them their home Division II girls basketball quarterfinal tournament game on Friday night.

But history three years ago had perhaps given a hint to the Hollis High School Cavaliers that home isn’t always where the tournament wins are. The Cavs back then upset a Bishop Brady team in Concord in the quarters en route to a finals appearance.

Last night, albeit in a game with entirely different teams, the Green Giants returned the favor with a stunning 70-62 comeback win.

“I’m shocked in just the fact that it’s over,” said Cavaliers senior guard Christina Balsamo, who scored 24 points in what would be the final game of her standout high school career. “You have to give them credit, they’re a very good team. We came out strong. I don’t know if we got too comfortable or not. They’re a good team, but we had it. … It happens.”

Indeed, the No. 2 Cavaliers (17-3) came out on fire, leading by as many as 18, 38-20, late in the first half. Then something changed as Brady cut the gap to 38-25 at the break and then trailed just 48-46 entering a fourth quarter the No. 7 Giants (14-6) dominated.

“We started playing as a team,”Brady sharpshooter Ami Rivera, who had a game-high 29 points, said. “We just started to trus in our teammates which I don’t think we were doing at the beginning of the game (down 16-6 after one).

“We really cracked down on defense. Our defensive stops and our clutch shooting at the end (made the difference).”

“We stopped feeling bad, and we just battled,” Brady coach Annie Mattarazzo said. “We knew we were going to grind it out, and whatever happens was going to happen.”

What happened was the Cavs went stone cold in the final period, and then were hit with a huge call when sophomore Elisabeth Stapelfeld, instead of having a chance at a traditional three-point play with the game tied at 55, was instead called for a charge, wiping out at least her bucket with 3:40 left. Rivera hit one of two free throws at the other end to give the Giants the lead for good as they went on a game-deciding 6-0 run.

The Giants, not known as shy shooters, hit eight 3-pointers. It felt almost as if they had more.

“They started launching them and hitting them,” Cavaliers coach Bob Murphy said. “Sometimes you win a game like that or you lose a game like that.

“I don’t know what to say to my kids right now. All I can say is (Brady) came out and played a helluva second half, and they took it to us and they deserved to go to the semis.”

Brady’s Riley Marsh (13 points) hit a big trey and Isabella Rivera hit two foul shots to finish off that run, making it 61-55 Brady with 2:45 left.

HB’s Amanda Goclowski (17 points) hit a traditional three-point play to bring the Cavs to within 61-58 with 2:35 left, but then Marsh hit a jumper and Ami Rivera a layup with 1:46 left and the Giants were in control, 65-58. The foul line parade helped the lead grow to 70-60 in the final minute.

Libbey Hicks added 10 points for Brady while Stapelfeld contributed nine points for HB.

“That little run at the end of the first half made me nervous,” Murphy said. “They’re capable of doing that. They do it a lot. I’ve seen them do it year after year. … My seniors played their hearts out.

“It’s tough. I really felt like we were going up to Hanover.”


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