It wasn’t always pretty, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but Bishop Ireton’s Cardinals (8-5) claimed their second tournament championship of the season in a 46-43 win over neighboring West Potomac High School at Falls Church High School Friday afternoon.
The Wolverines (5-6) battled the Cardinals throughout the tightly contested affair, each time the Catholic school put distance between the clubs, the blue jerseyed public school climbed right back with a run of their own. Ireton staked themselves to an 11-8 advantage after one period, then went on a 13-4 tear to go to halftime with a comfortable 26-18 lead. West Potomac came out in the third period, however, and promptly put together their own 11-4 run to get right back into the game. The third period ended with Ireton clinging to a slim two point margin at 35-33.
Mara Celis-Copelotti opened the final stanza with a three point bucket and sophomore Alex Stipano quickly drained a jumper off a Wolverine turnover and suddenly Ireton raced out to a 40-33 score. They continued with 5 more unanswered points and looked ready to run away with the game. Megan Panagopoulos and all tournament player, Talya Dawson had other ideas and the two Wolverines led Coach Dave Sawczuk’s team on a 8-0 run to put the Quander Road school within 2 at 45-43 in the game’s final minute.
The play was hectic in the contest’s final seconds, Ireton ending up with possession of the ball with :02.1 left and the game still sitting at 45-43. Senior Camille Weber was fouled, made the front end of the one-and-one, then wisely clanked the second shot off the rim, leaving the Wolverines with the ball on the wrong end of the floor and no time to get a shot. In the end, it came down to two more three pointers and a free throw. Both squads had 15 field goals on the day, but the redbirds made 3 field goals from beyond the 3-point arc to one for West Potomac. Ireton was 13 of 24 from the charity stripe, West Potomac 12 of 20.
“We survived that game.” said a relieved head coach, Derek Campbell. “We got great effort today in a tough ballgame, Julia (O’Brien), Camille (Weber), and Mara (Celis-Copelotti) gave us great leadership today as well.” Celis-Copelotti joined Dawson on the all tourney team. Stipano led all scorers with 18 points, Celis-Copelotti had 12, O’Brien 7, Weber 6, Gallahan 2, and Hatchett 1. Dawson’s 11 led the Wolverines while Asia Mills-Burch had 10, Megan Panagopoulos 9, Blossom Pierre 7, Anna Carney and Shantelle Jennings each with 3. Julia O’Brien hauled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Cardinals.
For Bishop Ireton, they take a break until the new year when they travel to Good Counsel on Wednesday. Tipoff for the varsity is slated for 6pm.