Run comes to a tough end for Holy Cross girls in Class L final

Holy Cross’ Century McCartney finds herself surrounded by Hand’s Sara Wohlgemuth (15), Colleen Caruth (12) and Halle Freund (10).
The top-seeded Holy Cross girls basketball team went into
halftime of Sunday’s Class L state title game up five points on second-seeded
Daniel Hand at Mohegan Sun Arena.
In the second half, the Tigers used their athleticism and a
packed-in zone to take control, and the Crusader shots didn’t drop. Hand scored the last six
points of the third quarter, then four more to start the fourth to lead 45-40.
The Crusaders got within two points, but couldn’t muster enough offense to get all the way back. Hand held on for a 50-45 win, a Class L state championship, and a 26-2 record. Holy Cross ended one win shy of the ultimate goal at 25-3.
It was the final game in a Crusader uniform for seniors Idalis Miranda, Isabel Plant, Meghan Villano, Gabby Goldman, Allison Orsini, Andrea Pettinico and Nevya Vermette.
[Hand] didn’t back down,” Holy Cross head coach Frank Lombardo said outside the locker room. “It could have went our way, but the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
Miranda had nine points to lead the Crusaders. No one scored in double figures for Holy Cross, which got seven points from Plant, along with six from Hannah Brown and five each from Villano, Aiyana Ward and Century McCartney. McCartney also had 12 rebounds. Austin pulled in seven while Ward grabbed six. A big minus for the Crusaders were their 26 turnovers.
Holy Cross’ Aiyana Ward challenges the shot of Hand’s Gabby Egidio while teammates
Devan Eason (11) and Allie Brown (20) look on.
“I thought we dribbled way too much into traffic,” Lombardo said.
A lot of that had to do with the defensive effort of the Tigers. There were times when a Holy Cross dribbler thought she had the edge, only to be run down from behind by a Hand defender. Gabby Egidio led the Tigers with six — that’s right, six — steals. Kaitlyn Martin added four steals while Gabby Martin added three.
It is normal for a Holy Cross opponent to be worn out in the fourth quarter because of relentless pressure. Hand was not a normal opponent.
“I don’t think they were tired,” Lombardo said. “They took that away from us in the fourth quarter.”
Hannah Brown brought the Crusaders within 3 at 47-44 at the 3:37 mark of the fourth quarter, but the top seed didn’t get any closer. 
Holy Cross had its chances, in spite of the bevy the turnovers. There were open shots twice in a one-possession game that failed to drop.
“I thought we had some good looks,” Lombardo said.
In the end, Hand had too much energy, too much length and too much tenacity. Holy Cross had to settle for second place in its first trip back to the state finals since 2007.
Still, take nothing away from how far the Crusaders went in the 2016-17 season. It was an amazing run after all.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment, what this team has done this year,” Lombardo said.
Holy Cross won 25 games and got to the state final for the first time in 10 years. That’s a lot to be proud of.