Saguaro girls basketball coach Chris Young believed his team had an opportunity early in the second quarter Monday afternoon to come back at wounded Seton Catholic.
With senior standout Julia Barcello sidelined by three fouls seconds into the quarter, there was rhyme to Young's reason. Seton, however, had something to say about that.
The Lady Sentinels actually built on their lead in the second period sans Barcello, taking it from single digits to double digits by intermission and went on to defeat the defending Division II state champions, 46-37, at the 11th annual MLK Classic at Grand Canyon University.
“I thought we could make a run at them,” Young said. “They're a hard team to beat. And it shows they are not a one-player team. They're a great team.”
Seton (19-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes. The margin was 15-8 after the first quarter. When Barcello, who drew two fouls in the first period, notched No. 3 to begin the second, teammate Heather Heild was concerned briefly.
“I think we stepped up when that happened,” Heild said. “When I heard them say it was her third foul I thought, 'This is bad'. We prepared hard for this game. I think I stepped up, we all stepped up some.”
Heild and fellow senior Crystal Eze combined for 20 of Seton's 28 first-half points. Eze eased the burden on the boards in the opening half with Barcello on the bench, grabbing six rebounds and finishing with nine. Heild led all scorers with 16 points and Eze chipped in 11. Eze missed last season with a knee injury.
Seton was mindful all afternoon of Saguaro's ability to shoot the 3 and in trying to control leading scorer Casey Rarrick. Rarrick managed 15 points, but had a very tough time from the field. Rarrick connected on 5 of 24 shots. As a team Saguaro shot 20 percent from the floor (10-of-50) and was outrebounded, 46-29.
“We came out fired up,” Seton coach Karen Self said. “The girls wanted this game badly. They knew it was the defending state champs. This was antest to see where we are at.”
Barcello took over on the boards in the second half and contributed 9 of her 11 points. She finished with 17 rebounds, adding another large amount to her career-school record in that department. Seton's lead reached 15 (35-20) midway through the third quarter.
A turnover-plagued, fourth quarter by Seton (nine) didn't bite the Lady Sentinels. Saguaro (15-5) made only one field goal in the final period, but did manage to outscore Seton in the period, 10-7.
“It was hard for us to come back because we just couldn't make shots,” Young said. “I thought we got some good looks. It was an off-shooting nght.”