Losing two regular season games against Kinkaid by at least 10 points did not bode well for the Mavericks as they headed into the SPC finals against the Falcons.
But a reevaluation of their defensive strategy turned the tide to a Maverick victory, 42-39, earning the senior class their third SPC title.
“Our defense has been great this whole weekend,” Head Coach Harold Baber said. “We knew we needed that to carry us this game.”
That defense carried the team to two consecutive victories this weekend against St. Mark’s and All-Saints, 62-36 and 57-35, respectively.
Despite their performance during the earlier rounds, the Mavericks trailed at the end of the first quarter, 15-12.
“It was nerve wracking to watch,” junior manager Isabel Wallace-Green said. “I knew we had lost to Kinkaid during the season, so I was nervous when we started to fall behind. I figured if the crowd kept hopes alive, then it would be easier for the players to as well.”
After the half, SJS took over with the biggest lead of the game, 31-20. The Falcons responded with a 10-0 run in five minutes, making it a one-point game. With help from senior J.T. Trauber (three-point shot), captain Risher Randall (fouled on a layup to make a three-point play) and senior Wes Wallace (one of two free throws), the Mavericks brought the score to 40-36 with 19.08 seconds remaining.
A crucial three-point shot from Kinkaid made the score a one-point difference yet again, 40-39. A foul put Winslow at the free-throw line.
“The major play for me this game was when I hit the last two free throws,” Winslow said.
His final two points helped secure the victory for SJS. After a devastating second-place finish last year against Episcopal following two consecutive SPC championships, the seniors were eager to finish their high school careers with another trophy.
“We defended Kinkaid differently,” Randall said. “Our plays came together to pull the win. It was a great way to end my career.”
Winslow, who will play for the Duke Blue Devils next year, scored 21 points and had 15 rebounds. Randall was the team’s second highest scorer, contributing 12 points and three rebounds.
“We knew that, regardless of the outcome, we’d be so grateful for the experiences we’ve had as a team,” Winslow said. “Now that we’ve won the game, it feels great.”
The victory closed a chapter in SJS basketball defined by a group of seniors united by their camaraderie on the court.
“I’ve been waiting to coach these guys since I saw them play together in seventh grade,” Baber said. “They’re a really special group, and they deserve to go out like this.”
Amy Kang & Lydia Liu
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