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St. Mary's girls get back at Manitou for tough loss last season
Pirates prevail 65-39
St. Mary’s heartbreaking loss to Manitou Springs last season was redeemed Friday night … and then some.
St. Mary’s guard Gabi Florek set the tone when she sunk a one-footed, NBA-distance 3 with time winding down in the first half, as the Pirates clobbered the host Mustangs 65-39.
Florek scored 18 of her 25 points in the first half to lead all scorers, none bigger than her circus shot to close the second quarter.
“We were feeling pretty good, and then (Florek) hit that shot from about half-court and we were feeling great,” said St. Mary’s coach Mike Burkett, whose team led 32-17 at the break. “That definitely got us going.”
In the second half, the Pirates led by as many as 31 and coasted to the win. Nine St. Mary’s players scored.
Despite the drubbing, Emily Whitelaw, who scored a season-low six points, waited until the end of the game to take a huge, deep breath.
“We were nervous before this one,” the senior said. “We wanted this one so bad, because of what happened last time against these guys.”
Last season at St. Mary’s, Manitou Springs guard Amelia Schofield, the Gazette 3A Girls Basketball Player of the Year, scored 21 points, including a go-ahead 3 with 22 seconds remaining and two clutch free throws in the final seconds to give the Mustangs the 49-45 win.
“We were up by so much,” Florek sighed.
But thankfully for her and St. Mary’s fans, Schofield and her talents were buried away in the stands Friday night.
“The nice thing about last year’s loss was knowing that (Schofield) was a senior,” said Burkett, who claimed his first win over Manitou Springs since 2009. “It’s always a rivalry with these two schools no matter what the record is. So it was nice to come out of here with a win.”
For the Mustangs (2-4), who were led by senior Ali Thompson’s 19 points, they wobble into the break “under construction.”
First-year coach Dan Gieck, who took over a team on the brink of losing its best player in program history, said his young roster is going through some growing pains.
“Tonight, we just got away from what we were doing,” Gieck said. “A lot of that is just our youth.”
As for the Pirates (4-0), they head into Christmas break jolly and undefeated, with back-to-back road wins, including a victory over last year’s postseason No. 1, Holy Family.
As the gym cleared, you couldn’t help but notice the grin the size of a backboard on Burkett.
He’s been wearing it all season.
“We’ve had a lot of good teams at St. Mary’s, having 14 winning seasons in a row,” he said. “But we’re really anxious for this team. They have a real shot to be something special.”