Holy Cross girls earn big win at St. Paul

Isabella Oliver and Holy Cross earned a bit of revenge for two losses to St. Paul from last season with Tuesday night’s convincing victory in Bristol. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2023 file)

“Excellent defense by Isabella Oliver,” read a tweet from the Holy Cross girls basketball X account after Tuesday night’s 64-36 win at St. Paul.

For those who know the senior captain and guard, excellent defense comes as no surprise. In last year’s state tournament, Oliver had to guard New Milford’s 6-foot-2 forward Jade Wallace, the daughter of former Syracuse great John Wallace. Despite giving up a whole bunch of size, Oliver held her own against Wallace, and Holy Cross won its quarterfinal round game against New Milford.

On Tuesday, Oliver was once again the spearhead of a suffocating Crusader defense. This time, Cross put the clamps on the Falcons. St. Paul did pull within nine in the second quarter after trailing by 18 at one point, but Holy Cross pushed the lead back to 13 by halftime, then put the game away in the second half.

On offense, Shania Howard fired in a game-high 24 points. No other Crusader reached double figures, but they had plenty of balance with Corinne Lomax (9 points), Quinn Barry (8), Rachel Healey (7), Isabella Lombardo (7) and Oliver (6) all contributing. Holy Cross got some revenge for the two losses it suffered against St. Paul last year, including the NVL tournament final. Rebecca Kelly had a team-high 15 points for the Falcons, who lost in the league for the first time this season (11-1, 13-2 overall).

These two NVL juggernauts, and the NVL’s last two tournament champions, will meet again on Feb. 9 at Tim McDonald Gymnasium in Waterbury. St. Paul is still a very solid team, and expect some adjustments when it travels to Holy Cross. The Falcons may still keep some things close to the vest, however, given the two teams could meet a third time in the NVL tournament.