According to Mount de Sales Academy basketball coach Trish Armstrong, any of her top players are capable of having a big offensive game when the situation presents itself.
It was Kristen Zaranski’s turn to go off on Thursday evening in East Baltimore against No. 19 Institute of Notre Dame, and the sophomore sharpshooter made the most of the opportunity in the Sailors’ 51-34 triumph in an Interscholastic Athletic association of Maryland B Conference semifinal.
Zaranski played like she owned the second-seeded Penguins’ Marion I. Knott gymnasium, pouring in 19 of a game-high 21 points in the second half to help send third-seeded Mount de Sales (20-5 overall) into Sunday’s championship game at 4 p.m. at Stevenson University against No. 11 St. John’s Catholic Prep.
“She’s a scoring machine,” Mount de Sales coach Trish Armstrong said. “She’s done that time and time again for us. She gets in certain positions and finds her way to the basket. She has a nose for the ball, and she’ll leak out in transition. She’s been our secret weapon all along. But no, honestly, we have six people that start that we interchange, and any one of the six can get hot.”
It took Zaranski — and everyone else playing in the contest — to begin finding a rhythm after the first half was dominated by unyielding defenses.
After Mount de Sales built a 10-4 advantage late in the first quarter, the Penguins went on a 13-2 run that gave them a 17-12 lead early in the third quarter.
A tough turnaround jumper from the foul line by Ja’Lyn Armstrong at the halftime buzzer and a 3-pointer by her junior classmate Madison DuBose keyed the run.
Not to be outdone, Sailor sophomore Abby Kuhn nailed a 3-pointer and swished the ensuing foul shot for a four-point play that cut the deficit to 17-16 before Zaranski followed suit with a baseline 3-pointer for a 19-17 lead.
IND (15-6) fought back, retaking the lead on separate occasions on inside moves by Dubose sandwiched around a desperation buzzer-beater by Mount de Sales senior point guard Bridget Williams that skimmed off the glass and through the cylinder from a severe angle.
The 26-25 lead DuBose gave her team in the opening minute of the final period would be short-lived with the way Zaranski was shooting.
After Williams’ two free throws put the Sailors back on top for good at 27-26, Zaranski made two foul shots and back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Sailors’ margin to 35-26 midway through the fourth quarter.
It widened further on Kuhn’s stick-back and two free throws and a layup by Williams to complete a pivotal 16-0 run that knocked the Penguins out of the playoffs after a highly successful season under coach Robert DuBose.
“The biggest thing was how slow we started,” said Ja’Lyn Armstrong, who tied Madison DuBose for team scoring honors with 11 points. “We didn’t come out with our usual aggressive style, and as upperclassmen we failed to take charge the way we should have.”
Zaranski said that her second-half outburst was part of a momentum swing win the Sailors’ favor.
“We had a spark in the second half, and we started to hit shot after shot,” she said. “There was so much energy on the court, and we were just super excited.”
The Sailors were practically run out of their own gym in late January when St. John’s beat them, 72-44. The defending champ Vikings routed Glenelg Country School, 60-37, in Thursday's other semifinal in Frederick.
There will be no backing down by the Sailors on Sunday.
“We might have gotten blown out at home, but we were coming off exam week,” Trish Armstrong said. “(That loss) doesn’t mean anything to us. We respect them greatly, and they’re a great team. But we’re not afraid to play them.”
IAAM B CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL
MOUNT DE SALES ACADEMY 51, No. 19 INSTITUTE OF NOTRE DAME 34
MDS 10 2 13 19 — 51
IND 8 6 10 10 — 34
MOUNT DE SALES ACADEMY: Kristen Zaranski 21, Abby Kuhn 12, Bridget Williams 10, Allie Berlin 6, Sydney Skalstad 2. TOTALS: 17 12-17 51.
INSTITUTE OF NOTRE DAME: Ja’Lyn Armstrong 11, Madison DuBose 11, Brittney Isokpunwu 4, Grace Taylor 4, Karis Ferguson 2, Eve Ammons 2. TOTALS: 11 12-21 34.
Last Updated (Friday, 17 February 2017 14:26)