Seton Catholic's quest to retain its status as Division II championship contenders nearly came to an end Friday night after pesky No. 15 Williams Field took the defending champions to overtime before Seton held on for a 49-43 victory.
In a game of missed opportunities and miniscule, fleeting leads, the No. 2-seeded Sentinels held on for dear life with a 42-40 lead and less than a minute left before eventually moving on to the quarterfinals.
Seton Catholic will continue its attempt to repeat when it faces No. 10 Campo Verde in the quarterfinals at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
A rebound off a Williams Field shot with 42 seconds left would've provided Seton with a modicum of breathing room, but Blackhawks junior A'Shari Pittman snuck around the Lady Sentinels to snag an offensive rebound and put the ball back in to tie the game.
“Had we boxed out at 42-40, we wouldn't have had to go to overtime,” said Seton Catholic coach Karen Self.
Twenty seconds later, Williams Field fumbled two opportunities of its own to go home with the huge upset. The first came when fabulous sophomore Arianna Barnes missed two free throws that would have bumped the Lady Blackhawks over the Sentinels. As the final 10 seconds approached, Williams Field sophomore Shantelle Crespin came up with a huge steal and one last chance to win, but the remaining time left melted off the clock before any Williams Field player attempted a shot, which added another four minutes to the contest.
Those missed opportunities began to hurt the young Williams Field team early in the extra session when a technical foul allowed Seton junior Heather Heild to convert two easy points for a 44-42 lead. Within seconds, Williams Field had lost Barnes after she picked up her fifth foul, and its deficit grew to four after a pretty layup by Heild.
A free throw by Crespin put the Blackhawks within three with less than 30 seconds to go and with Heild on the line once again. After draining the first attempt, Heild's second shot bounced off the rim and into the hands of teammate Megan Burke, who proceeded to ease it back into the hoop and seal the game for the Sentinels.
“It's more of a wake-up call; we have to work hard,” junior Julia Barcello said about the tight win.
Heild paced the Sentinels with 16 points and senior Susan Spinner dropped in 14 of her own. Burke added 10 points and Barcello scored seven for Seton Catholic. Leading the way for the Blackhawks was Cardelia Allen and her 16 points, followed by Crespin with 12 points and Barnes' nine points.
What kept Williams Field - which finished the season 0-4 against Seton - alive for much of the night was a pressure defense that stymied the Sentinels during the first half and continued to irk them for the rest of the game.
As was the case during the team's 46-31 loss to Saguaro in the sectional tournament, it was a reminder of how much the absence of point guard Anne Marie Holter, who is out for the year after tearing her ACL on Jan. 29, has affected the Sentinels' offense.
“You can't grow a point guard in a week,” Self said.
Seton Catholic 49, Williams Field 43
Seton 7 13 11 11 7 -- 49
WF 8 10 8 16 1 -- 43
Seton: Eze 2, Heild 16, Barcello 7, Spinner 14, Burke 10
WF: Crespin 12, Pittman 6, Allen 16, Barnes 9