Carroll denied title shot at buzzer

PHILADELPHIA >> Archbishop Carroll’s Molly Masciantonio would trade in all 1,000 of her career points if it meant an opportunity to play for a Philadelphia Catholic League title at the Palestra.

Masciantonio hit the 1,000-point mark in the second quarter of the Patriots’ semifinal playoff game against top-seeded Neumann-Goretti. It happened when she banked her third and final 3-pointer of the first half to bring the Patriots even with the Saints for the first time.

“My first goal is always a team goal, which is we always want to go to the championship,” Masciantonio said. “Secondly, for me, is individual goals. The 1,000 points is nice, but first of all, we really wanted to get to the Palestra because we really worked hard and deserved it.”

Masciantonio, junior Harlem Jennings and sophomore Erin Sweeney all performed admirably, and went toe-to-toe with one of the best programs in the state. A last-second 3-pointer by Tatiana Jones, however, spoiled Carroll’s upset bid and gave the Saints a thrilling 48-47 victory.

Neumann-Goretti twice trailed by nine points in the fourth quarter. The Saints closed out the game on a 15-5 run. Carroll helped them with four turnovers in the final eight minutes of regulation.

“The kids feel terrible,” Carroll coach Renie Shields said. “They played a great game. We had some mistakes here and there, but they played great. What are you going to do? The kid (Jones) hit a shot at the end like that.”

On N-G’s final possession, trailing by a point, Carroll decided to double-up on Saints guard Jabria Ingram, who led all players with 22 points. That left forward Jones wide open at the top of the circle, and she didn’t miss.

“I just found my spot right there,” Jones said. “I knew it was going in.”

This was a particularly disappointing way for the Patriots to lose. They proved they could hang with the best, and were so-close to finishing the deal.

“We had a good lead, got down and then got back up again. We had to stay in the game the whole time and stay focused,” said Jennings. “We had a game plan at the end to double Ingram and just forget about everyone else. She just … hit the shot. We couldn’t help that. I thought our game plan was good at the end.”

The Patriots inbounded the ball with 2.8 seconds on the clock, but Masciantonio’s desperation 3-pointer was off the mark.

“We played our hardest and there was really nothing different we could have done,” said Masciantonio. “I should have made my foul shots toward the end, but they’re a great team. We really stuck with our plan the whole game, they just made a big shot at the end. There was one little mistake there, too, that cost us the game. We should have won it.”

The win was No. 100 in the career for Neumann-Goretti coach Andrea Peterson, a Carroll product.

Masciantonio scored 15 points and handed out three assists. Jennings added 14 points, three rebounds and an assist. Sweeney chipped in with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.

The Patriots will shift their focus to the District 12 final and the state tournament next month. If nothing else, Tuesday’s heartbreaking loss proved they can hang with the best of the best.

“We proved ourselves tonight,” Masciantonio said.

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