By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – In the end, a state championship run for the St. Paul girls basketball squad was stopped in one of the best title games ever in Class S history.
And the only way champion Thomaston was going to get by – or through – the Falcons was in overtime.
In fact, it took two extra sessions to finish off the top seed in the class.
That’s why the 2014 Bristol Observer Girls Basketball All Tournament Team is loaded with St. Paul’s best and junior Kelly McMahon came away with this year’s MVP award.
McMahon was a bulldog throughout tournament play and in four games, she wrangled up 56 total points, and averaged a stout 14 points-per-game.
There’s a grittiness that accompanies her play and while you watch her throw in three-pointers and attack the hoop with zest, there’s an amazing passing component to her game along with a defensive toughness that makes a striking appearance in every game she takes the floor in.
McMahon jammed in 10 three-pointers in tournament play and zipped up 19 points in the 49-32 victory over Westbrook to open playoff action.
She nailed up 14 against Lyman Hall, nabbed 12 points, and zipped in three three-pointers in the one-point victory over Bolton.
And in the championship game, McMahon played 40 huge minutes – the entire game in fact.
Her uncle – Thomaston coach Robert McMahon – knew what to expect and although she only scored 11 points in the championship tilt, each point was bigger than the last.
In all, her championship day included five rebounds, two assists and two three-point bombs.
In fact, that effort capped off her drive in earn ing the Bristol Observer’s MVP award this year (not an easy award to acquire, mind you).
And then McMahon had a couple of teammates who also earned a slot on the Observer First Team.
Playing in pain, Theresa Swanke had a really good postseason, averaging 11.3 points-per-game and was the defensive-minded standout she’s always been since she first stepped on the court of the Maltby Street gymnasium as a freshman.
Swanke dropped in a team best 16 points to go along with seven rebounds in the 61-41 victory over Lyman Memorial while zipping up 13 points in the semifinal victory over Bolton.
Sophomore Lizzy Cretella also came through big for the Falcons and in the championship game, she drained 14 huge points in the near victorious effort.
She also jammed in four rebounds, six assists, and three steals in a MVP type effort.
Cretella averaged 7.3 points-per-game in the postseason this year.
First teamer Mekaela Giantonio also had one heck of a state tournament run, cashing in a team best 15 points to go along with four rebounds and canned three three-pointers against the Bears in the championship game.
Over the four postseason games, Giantonio averaged 8.3 points-per-game and sunk home two three-pointers an outing.
Along those lines, St. Paul reserve Maddie Sturm made the Observer Second Team and in the championship tilt, she played a tremendous game.
Sturm added nine points, a team best 10 rebounds, and two blocks and her play in the middle helped the ailing Swanke.
Those unsung players all stepped up as St. Paul came ever so close in nabbing its first state championship since 2010.
“They’re always somebody that’s not your star player that kind steps up and makes a play,” said St. Paul coach Joe Mone. “I thought (Cretella) played well. I thought Maddie Sturm played a really (good game). She started off really bad until I talked (to her), tried to calm her down, and once she calmed down and just played, I thought she had a really good game rebounding.”
“She hit some key baskets for us…she was all over the place.”
Rounding out the first team was Bristol Eastern’s Daijia Brooks and before the Lancers ran into the soon-to-be Class L champions – Capital Prep – the junior had an amazing run.
In games against Windsor and Watertown, Brooks posted averages of 20.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 4.5 blocks, and 4.5 steals-per-game over those two wins.
Brooks burned Windsor for 22 points while smoking Watertown for 18 points and 19 rebounds.
And she still scored in double figures in the losing effort to Capital Prep.
Along with Sturm, the Observer second team features players from all three of Bristol’s scholastic squads.
Bristol Eastern senior Amanda Zdun of Bristol Eastern averaged 7.0 point-per-game in three games, canned five three-point goals, and hit for 10 points, four rebounds and five assists in the victory over Windsor.
Central’s Chandler Walker and fellow senior Christina Bouvier played well in their final scholastic games against Greenwich in Class LL, first round tournament action. Walker battled foul trouble all game but still rolled up eight points and nine rebounds versus Greenwich while Bouvier notched seven points and five rebounds in the losing effort.
Sturm averaged 4.3 points-per-game in tourney play while Eastern sophomore Jamilla Shoultz added 7.7 points and did a little of everything for the Lancers. Shoultz dashed Watertown for 11 points in winning effort while also tallying four rebounds and three steals.
And finally, St. Paul’s Lizzy Ferraro averaged 3.8 points an outing in tournament action.
She came off the bench to collect four points and three rebounds against Thomaston while notching six points in St. Paul’s win over Westbrook.
The 2014 Bristol Observer Girls Basketball All Tournament Team
Girls First Team
Name/Grade Team Position Tournament Numbers
Kelly McMahon, Junior St. Paul Guard 14.0 points-per-game, 10 three- pointers in tourney play
Theresa Swanke, Senior St. Paul Center 11.3 ppg, combined 29 points versus Westbrook/Lyman
Daijia Brooks, Junior Bristol Eastern Forward 17.3 ppg, had postseason best 22 points vs. Windsor
Lizzy Cretella, Sophomore St. Paul Guard 7.3 ppg, hit for 14 points in champi onship game
Mekaela Giantonio, Junior St. Paul Guard 8.3 points-per-game, 8 three-pointers in four games
Runners Up: Amanda Zdun, Sr., Bristol Eastern (7.0 point-per-game, 5 three-pointers); Chandler Walker, Sr., Bristol Central (8 points, 9 rebounds vs. Greenwich); Christina Bouvier, Sr., Bristol Central (7 points, 5 rebounds vs. Greenwich); Maddy Sturm, Jr., St. Paul (4.3 points-per-game, 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots in the championship game); Jamilla Shoultz, So., Bristol Eastern (7.7 points-per-game; smoked Watertown for 11 points in winning effort); Lizzy Ferraro, So., St. Paul (3.8 ppg; came off bench to collect 4 points and 3 rebounds in the final game of the year).
MVP: Kelly McMahon, St. Paul
By MICHAEL LETENDRE