No doubting Thomas: Senior lifts Baptist
Lauren Parra has been out all year with a knee injury suffered late in the AAU season and Anastasia Williams has missed five games with an inner ear infection. That’s 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-1 missing from the St. John the Baptist frontcourt.
That would cripple most teams, but most teams don’t have a player like Brianna Thomas.
“She’s strong. She’s got a WNBA body for a guard and she’s going to have a great career at Fairleigh Dickinson,” Baptist coach Ted Oberg said. “She’s got that power and strength. Everything she does is with power and some speed.”
On Sunday, the 5-foot-9 senior swing was a beast in the paint, helping pace the Cougars to a 53-46 victory against Francis Lewis in the Francis Lewis Winter Ball in Queens.
Thomas had 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven steals for Baptist (4-4), which won its second straight game.
“We’re missing [Williams] and rebounds off the boards and putbacks,” Thomas said. “As a team we have to make up for what we’re missing to get the win.”
Francis Lewis (3-4) led by as many as 10 late in the first half, but Baptist opened the third quarter on an 11-3 run, fueled by back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman Zoe Riis-Fallica, who had 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
“She came off the bench with a lot of intensity,” Thomas said. “That got everybody moving and we were able to gain momentum from that.”
The Cougars did a better job with the basketball in the second half, a result of better spacing on the court, according to Oberg. Conversely, Francis Lewis gambled on defense and the result was open 3-pointers for Baptist, which also received 10 points apiece from Lauren Williams and Aliyah Smith.
“That’s the one thing we don’t give up and all of a sudden they broke it wide open by hitting some threes,” Lewis coach Steve Tsai said.
Long Island Lutheran 62, Truman 41
Rich Slater has been happy throughout the early portion of his team’s schedule – that is until Sunday’s 21-point win against Truman in the Francis Lewis Winter Ball Sunday afternoon in Queens.
“Today just wasn’t one of our better defensive efforts,” the Long Island Lutheran coach said.
Still, LuHi (7-1) did a good enough job denying Truman star Krystal Pearson, who was limited to 10 points. And the Crusaders, who led 29-22 at the half, broke the game open on three consecutive 3-pointers by Christina Raiti (12 points), Boogie Brozoski and Paige Kriftcher, who netted a game-high 23 points, early in the fourth quarter.
Lynda Fields had 15 points and Lisa fields added 12 for Truman (6-3), which came in off an emotional high of beating rival JFK Wednesday night.
“I definitely think it was 100 percent defense,” Raiti said when asked about the change from the first half to the second. “We obviously had a bad shooting game, but you can’t live and die by the three pointer and you’re not always going to get calls from refs so you just have to deal with that.”
While the Crusaders are disappointed with their performance Sunday, the return to practice Monday with a focus on returning to Albany and repeating as New York State Federation Class B champions.
“I think we mention it at practice every day,” Kriftcher said. “Every extra sprint we remember we’re doing it for States. We want to outwork every other team. That’s our main goal that we’re working towards.”
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