Foul trouble didn't keep AnnMarie Healy from staying aggressive and lifting the Lions to the title.
A trained Irish dancer, Providence Academy's AnnMarie Healy could have celebrated the Lions' Class 2A championship in fitting fashion on St. Patrick's Day.
When that Riverdance idea was proposed, the senior forward laughed it off.
"Oh, I don't know about that," she said, giggling. "It's all about basketball now."
She settled for hugs -- lots and lots of hugs. And she earned every last one of them.
The Harvard recruit capped her high school career with a clutch performance at Target Center. She scored a game-high 18 points in a 46-40 victory over Sauk Centre.
Healy picked up three fouls by the time 4 minutes, 30 seconds remained in the first half but didn't let it deter her game.
"It definitely made me think about how I threw my arms and moved my feet," she said. "But I still got in there and contested those layups."
She saved her best performance for the other end of the court.
Providence Academy was down by five to the Mainstreeters (27-4) with four minutes to play in the game, but Healy tied it up a little more than a minute later. After teammate Katie Nordick missed the free throw on a possible three-point play, Healy grabbed the offensive rebound -- one of five she had in the game -- and banked it in.
The four-point swing gave Providence Academy a lead it would never relinquish.
"The thing that got us through this entire game is confidence," Healy said. "We got some cheap fouls and stuff like that, but it was so important to get through that and keep a cool head about it. It was on us to believe in ourselves, and we knew that we came too far to give up now."
The Lions (27-4) trailed by five at halftime and, despite a quick start to the second half, fell back behind by seven with 12:10 to play.
That didn't help an already weary coach Ray Finley, who said he got one hour of sleep while tossing and turning about this game after a 29-point semifinal breeze.
Healy's play, of course. But a little luck always helps, too.
"I found a penny on the street on the way over today," said Finley, who has now guided three small-school programs to state titles, following earlier success at Blake and Breck. "I thought, 'Thank you. I'll take it. One point, 50 points. It doesn't matter. It's all good.' "
|Sam Houston St||76|
|Stephen F Austin||83|
|Miss Valley St||66|
|Miss Valley St||61|
|Central Conn St||53||FINAL|
|Mount St Marys||87||FINAL|