O’Hara edges Sacred Heart as WNY’s best battle until end
All in all, the match-up between two top teams in Western New York girls basketball, Cardinal O’Hara and Sacred Heart, lived up to every ounce of hype it received prior to tip-off Tuesday evening.
The battle of the two Monsignor Martin powerhouses and a pair of unbeaten squads came down to a last second shot by Sacred Heart that fell short, giving O’Hara a 57-55 win.
It is Hawks’ first victory over Sacred Heart in over 20 years. Cardinal O’ Hara improved to 18-0.
“The game didn’t come up short in any area tonight,” said O’Hara head coach Dan McDermott. “It was everything we expected.”
O’Hara guard Keyonte Edwards finished a strong performance with 17 points, eight deflections, five steals and six rebounds.
“This game was huge for us,” said Edwards. “We haven’t beat them in over twenty years, so it feels really good to finally win.’
O’Hara got off to a good start and maintained the upper hand throughout the first half. The Hawks went into halftime with a seven-point lead over Sacred Heart.
The Sharks came roaring back in the second half and rallied to take a one-point lead in the third quarter.
The resilience Sacred Heart showed put O’Hara in a high pressure situation. The Hawks lost a sizeable lead to an undefeated opponent which they haven’t beaten in over two decades away from home. Did the girls in black and gold ever waiver? Edwards says no.
“Not at any point,” responded Edwards. “My coach asked me if I was tired. I was exhausted, (but) I did not want to come out of this game.”
O’Hara’s stifling defense was also a key in beating the perennial-power of the MMAA.
“We certainly want to be aggressive,” said McDermott. “We want to take advantage of our size and our aggressiveness. That’s what we try to do every game and tonight it worked.”
Hawks’ forward Sara Dipasquale enjoyed a big night as well down low for O’Hara as she finished with nine rebounds, two blocked shots and three steals. She said her team was well prepared for this match-up.
“After losing to Sacred Heart twice last year, we were extremely prepared tonight,” said Dipasquale. “In the locker room, before the game everyone was silent. We were so ready. We were confident and motivated.”
Despite missing out on a perfect season, the Sharks, who still remain in first place in the Monsignor Martin large school division, are taking this loss in stride. Sacred Heart also remains Western New York’s top ranked large school, while O’Hara is the top small school.
“I think this is good for us,” said Sacred Heart senior forward La’Trice Hall, who enjoyed another standout performance pacing the Sharks with 21 points. “We lost to a quality team. We know what we have to do next time. We know what we have to do within ourselves in order to beat them. We’ll be ready the next time we play them.”
Chances are O’Hara and Sacred Heart will play each other again in the postseason. Both teams seem to be equally excited for the likely rematch.
“Now that we have this momentum going, we are going to be so pumped for the upcoming games,” said Dipasquale. “It’s going to be awesome going into the playoffs knowing we have a win on Sacred Heart. We (may) meet them again, and (if we do) that game is going to be just as good as this one.”