DICK’S Nationals Game 6

By Christopher Lawlor

NEW YORK – There is only one game left for Miami (Fla.) Country Day and seniors Channise Lewis and Kelsey Marshall. It just so happens to be for National High School Championship.

It is a grand stage for the backcourt mates who when it is all said and done will go down as two of the best from Florida. Time to shine is Saturday morning but on a rainy, dreary Friday, the Lady Spartans did not look like a team that played their last game on February 24.

Lewis and Marshall combined for 29 points and 10 assists during a 55-48 victory over Seton Catholic Prep (Chandler, Ariz.) in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament girls’ semifinals at Christ the King High School’s Father John Savage Memorial Gymnasium.

Lewis, an Illinois signee, pumped in a game-high 21 points while canning 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Marshall, who will play locally at University of Miami, had 8 points and handed out 4 assists. Asha Taylor added 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Seton Catholic could not solve their opponents. Every time the Lady Sentinels made a run, Miami Country Day responded. The scoreline dropped under 10 points for the first time since the opening minutes late in the game, and Floridians were content on swinging the ball around the perimeter and eat precious time off the clock. The final minute was a game of keep away for the Lady Spartans, who were outscored 18-9 in the fourth.

Provided the Lady Spartans win on Saturday, they will nab the mystical national title. If not, there will be a quandary among the national ranking services.

Seton Catholic for the second straight fought gamely at the DICK’S Nationals but lost in the semifinals to a quick, more athletic team. Seton won the war on the boards, 31-27 and committed 17 turnovers. Miami hit 22 of 50 shots for 44%.

That sets up the dream matchup in the championship game as the Lady Spartans will play second-seeded Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.) at 10 a.m. EDT (on ESPN2). Miami is going for their second DICK’S Nationals title in three years and Heights is in their first final.

Lee Anne Wirth (12 points), a Gonzaga recruit along with her twin Jenn (6 points), drilled pair of 3-pointers in the final minute as the Lady Sentinels give everything to extend the season, but Lewis hit two free throws with 13.6 seconds and a turnover and another more free throw closed out the scoring.

Sarah Barcello was the constant all game for Seton Catholic, scoring 11 of her team-high 21 points in the second half. Barcello made 9 of 12 shots and a trio of threes. Liz Holter had 5 points and Kendall Krick had 4.

When Maria Alvarez and Lewis canned back-to-back 3-pointers in the third and the rout was on at 39-22, or it seemed.

After a tenuous opening quarter, Seton Catholic calmed down but still trailed by 12 points at 22-10 midway through the stanza.

Barcello continued her inspired play and brought the Sentinels within 25-15 converting an offensive rebound in traffic.

Lewis showed why she is one of the nation’s top players in the Class of 2017, slicing to the rim for a layup and then burying a long 3-pointer and the Lady Spartans held a 30-18 edge at the interval. Barcello’s 10 points topped Seton.

Lewis also scored 10, including two 3-pointers but the Lady Spartans were active in the interior producing an 18-6 edge in the paint.

Miamians played like the national championship was on the line from the opening tip. Berry tossed in 8 points and her team made 7 of 14 shots (50%) for a commanding 15-2 lead through one quarter.

In contrast, the Arizonans connected on only 1 of 10 shots (10%) as Barcello, a prized junior prospect, scored the lone basket. They were more proficient in the second quarter hitting 7 of 11 for 63.6% but the early deficit was the difference.