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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Lady Hawks Capture the Perfect Season

Cardinal O’Hara head coach Nick O’Neil has created a successful tradition in the girls’ basketball program. Last night provided another example to his legendary coaching career.

On their homecourt, the Lady Hawks took on St. Mary’s of Lancaster for the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association Championship. During the season, Cardinal O’Hara came out on top the previous two meetups.

During those games, St. Mary’s star and junior point guard Shay Ciezki, performed at a high level like she has consistently been doing this season. A tough physical challenge for the Lady Hawks, senior captain Aaliyah Parker wanted to face once tip off got started.

“Aaliyah wanted the challenge, she wanted to guard (Ciezki), we tried to keep her out of foul trouble, but she was like coach I got her,” O’Neil said.

Senior forward Amelia Strong provided six points for Cardinal O’Hara in the first quarter, but strong defense from both squads created challenges for open shots. O’Hara started out in front 11-6.

Sydney Mountain began the second quarter by hitting a three pointer from the top of the key, to increase the lead to eight for the Lady Hawks. From there, St. Mary’s went on to outscore O’Hara 14-7 until the final 20 seconds of the first half, going on an 8-0 run tying the game at 21. Parker would respond in the final seconds by driving by the defense for a layup at the buzzer, 23-21 O’Hara heading into halftime.

Ciezki would answer strong in third quarter, beginning with a three pointer to provide St. Mary’s their first lead of the game. Ensuing possession saw Cardinal O’Hara answering back with a three of their own. Parker swished her trey to give her team the lead back (26-24 O’Hara).

Strong, along with Parker, would go onto help the Lady Hawks outscore St. Mary’s 17-9. Parker provided strong perimeter play that led to transition buckets while Strong was becoming a challenge on offense in the low post. As the game progressed along, the consistent and constant pressure from Cardinal O’Hara saw St. Mary’s make some costly turnovers that would make it harder for them to make a comeback.

“We ware on teams defensively and even when they make a couple of shots here and there, after a while that pressure as you see they throw the ball away to get steals and it’s just constant,” O’Neil said.

O’Hara would continue to apply the pressure in the fourth quarter, cementing any chance of a comeback from St. Mary’s. The final buzzer sounded as the Lady Hawks came over to their bench and celebrated another impressive run, defeated St. Mary’s 64-48 to win the 2021 MMHSAA girls basketball championship. Parker would finish the night with 24 points and claiming MVP honors. Strong would end up with 15 points while senior Mia McCarthy would go onto score 13 points.

This win claimed Cardinal O’Hara their eighth consecutive title in Monsignor Martin. They also completed a milestone that no one saw coming; The Lady Hawks would go on and finish their season undefeated! (14-0). O’Neil went onto to say this team is up there in terms of performance and efficiency. For other girls’ basketball programs in Monsignor Martin that are hoping to catch a break from Cardinal O’Hara, that probably isn’t going to happen.

O’Neil also iterated there are a core group of girls coming up from junior varsity. Along with who he is keeping for next season, he visions about seven or eight players going division one, as long as they put in the work.

Feature Image by Shawn Turri/WNYAthletics.com

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