From the death of their coach, Apache Paschall, to the news that their school would be closing in June, it’s been an emotionally draining month for the Nazareth girls basketball team.
The basketball court, though, has served as their solace.
“The court is our sanctuary,” Naz co-coach Lauren Best said. “We always feel at home on the court. From the beginning, we taught them to go out and fight their hardest. These girls are survivors.”
On Sunday at Gaucho Gym in The Bronx, Nazareth took to its sanctuary to face New Jersey powerhouse Manasquan (NJ) in a meeting of two of the top three teams in the Tri-State by MSG Varsity.
Nazareth, as has been the case off the court, prevailed, beating the Warriors, 83-73, in the main event of the Mecca Challenge.
“We were playing a really good team,” Sadie Edwards said. “This win means a lot to us. I tried to play more aggressively and it worked. We played well overall.”
The junior guard scored a team-high 26 points and super sophomore Bianca Cuevas added 16 points for Nazareth (13-1), ranked No. 2 in the Tri-State by MSG Varsity. The Lady Kingsmen raced out to a 7-0 lead and had a 40-39 advantage at halftime.
Led by Katelynn Flaherty, who had a game-high 32 points and buried five 3-pointers, and Michaela Mabrey, who had 24, No. 3 Manasquan took a 54-52 lead into the fourth quarter. But Naz survived for one of its biggest wins of the year.
Christ the King 66, Cicero-North Syracuse 60: Sierra Calhoun had 20 points, Rayne Connell had 16 points and Amanni Fernandez added 12 for Christ the King (11-10), which upset the No. 5 ranked team in the country at the Mecca Challenge.