By Christopher Smith
---- — Central Catholic played an up-and-down regular season, hitting the tourney with a 16-5 record . But the Raiders have been dominant this postseason and will play Holy Name in the Division 1 state championship today.
Amanda Williams said that, throughout this winter and even after Central suffered a few tough losses, she never doubted even once whether her team was capable of making the state title game.
“Because we were just growing,” Williams said. “We were learning a lot. We always knew we’d do well because we’re a close team, we work really hard together, we practice hard and we have good chemistry.”
Central and Holy Name play at 5:45 p.m. today at the DCU Center.
“I always knew these girls were capable of what they’re doing now,” Central coach Sue Downer said. “My job as a coach was to figure out how could I best get them to this point. I think the losses along the way kind of figured some things out for me as a coach. ... I feel like we’ve got our rotation down, we know our kids and we know what they’re capable of. They’re playing well together. And there’s all those intangibles that you really can’t coach that are coming together in the postseason.”
Holy Name will be a tough out. It enters with a 23-2 record and a very strong defense which has allowed an average of just 36.1 points per game.
Junior Ama Biney (5-foot-7) is the Naps’ top scorer, averaging 12.0 points per game with 23 3-pointers.
Holy Name has two other 3-point threats: 5-7 sophomore Gigi Guenther (10.1 ppg, 29 3-pointers) and 5-4 junior Colleen Walsh (4.6 ppg, 17 3s).
Then there is 5-4 junior Aryauna Perez (9.3 ppg) and 6-2 junior Brianna Frias (8.4 ppg).
Frias, a forward/center, has verbally committed to play at Providence College.
“Perez and Frias are kind of their two key (players) that we know a lot kind of runs through them (offensively),” Downer said. “Perez is the point guard who leads them on their tempo. We know that we have to contain her and not let her (drive) to the paint because that’s when she’s most dangerous.”
Besides Frias, Holy Name has just one other player Megan Thornton (6-1) who is 6-feet or taller, but Thornton plays limited minutes, averaging 2.7 ppg. Sophomore starter Lauren Willand is 5-10 and averaging 3.0 ppg and senior starter Malissa Saad is 5-9 and averaging 4.5 ppg
“Defense, defense, defense — that’s what we’ve been preaching the past couple days at practice,” Downer said. “And our game-plan is that we’re just going to play tough and hard and again rebounding is a big key. But I think maintaining and containing that point guard is going to be a big key.”
Breaking down the matchup Central probable starting starters: Alex Nagri 5-2 Jr. Guard 5.4 ppg Caitlin Dell'Orfano 5-7 Jr. Guard 6.7 ppg Courtney Walsh 5-7 Jr. Guard 9.6 ppg Casey McLaughlin 6-0 Sr. Forward 17.1 ppg Amanda Williams 6-0 Jr. Forward 10.0 ppg Other key players: Darion Summers 5-6 Sr. Guard 4.4 ppg Madison Borrelli 5-8 Sr. Forward 2.0 ppg Holy Name probable starters: Ama Biney 5-7 Jr. Guard 12.0 ppg Aryauna Perez 5-4 Jr. Guard 9.3 ppg Malissa Saad 5-9 Sr. Forward 4.5 ppg Lauren Willand 5-10 Sophomore Forward 3.0 ppg Brianna Frias 6-2 Junior Forward 8.4 ppg Other key players: Gigi Guenther 5-7 Soph. Guard 10.1 ppg Gabriella Ferraro 5-8 Jr. Forward ppg Colleen Walsh 5-4 Junior Guard 4.6 ppg