By the time Cathedral opened up a 12-point lead after the first quarter, and a 30-point lead midway through the second, those same fans all but acknowledged the game was over.
Led by sophomore guards Dejah Jenkins and Amani Boston, the Panthers (18-4) used a stifling full-court trap to force Fenway into eight first-quarter turnovers and 26 for the game on their way to a dominant 84-34 win in the Division 4 semifinal at Woburn High. The game was delayed by a day because of Tuesday’s blizzard.
The Panthers (18-4) will face Quaboag on Saturday in the state final.
Cathedral coach Clinton Lassiter didn’t expect his full court trap to be so effective, but he was not surprised with the result.
“We knew they were well-disciplined and well-coached, but we want to just wear teams down . . . I didn’t expect as large of a margin as it was so early, but I guess fatigue kicked in on the large court and it kicked in for them early,” he said.
“Then our girls got some momentum and it just kept going from there.”
Cathedral’s stout defense, combined with its dominance in the paint, made it difficult for Fenway (16-8) to build any momentum on either end of the floor. Cathedral was able to get out on the break early and often, leading to easy layups and sucking the energy out of Fenway’s squad.
On the glass, the Panthers grabbed seemingly every board with freshman star Mackenzie Daleba setting the tone by grabbing four offensive rebounds in the first quarter — leading to 6 of her 8 first-quarter points. The 6-foot Daleba, who began the season deep as a reserve, posted her second straight double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Since inserting Daleba into the starting lineup, Cathedral has won 13 straight.
“It feels great,” said Daleba about potentially helping lead her team to a state title, “Because I didn’t think I would be here right now. I feel like I’ve really developed as a player this year. Before, I wasn’t really strong enough, and I had a lot to work on. But I worked and I pushed myself and now we are where we are.”
For Fenway, which was coming off of a big win against New Mission in the Division 4 North final, the result was a disappointment.
Coach John Rice noted that Tuesday’s blizzard certainly impacted his team’s ability to prepare, but stressed that it wasn’t the reason for the flat showing on Wednesday afternoon.
“They played a good game. They played a strong game, and we didn’t. We weren’t mentally ready to play, and it just seemed like we had a big mental letdown after that big win [against New Mission],” he said. “ . . . We had no energy at all. It was like we were just satisfied with what we accomplished so far and we didn’t show up to play today. That’s just the size of it.”
Cathedral 84, Fenway 34
at Woburn High School, Woburn
CATHEDRAL (18-4) — Dejah Jenkins 3 1 8, 3 1 8, Lara Matos 4 0 10, Taliyah Countrymon 4 5 13, Masseny Kaba 3 2 8, Kaiya Duverna 3 0 6, Kiara Ansley 2 0 5, Amani Boston 2 2 6, Ciana Gibson 4 1 10, Mackenzie Daleba 4 3 11, Jessica Davis 2 0 4. Totals 34 15 89.
FENWAY (16-8) — Shania Tarver 1 3 5, Imani Terry 3 0 6, Dasiah Thornton 1 0 2, Me’ara Carter 1 0 2, Crisalida Chaplin 1 1 3, Nattaly David 4 0 10, Asya Sullivan 2 0 4, Janayah Gulley 1 0 2. Totals 14 4 34.
Halftime: Cathedral, 43-11. 3-pt. goals: C Dejah Jenkins, , Lara Matos 2, Kiara Ansley, Ciana Gibson; F Nattaly David 2.
Tyler Blint-Welsh can be reached at email@example.com.