On Tuesday, the then-ranked #3 SJC girls’ varsity basketball team traveled to take on the #1 team in the nation, the Bishop McNamara Mustangs. Seemingly countless people showed up for the game, including family members of the players, students, casual fans, and even University of Maryland’s Head Coach Brenda Frese for the biggest game in high school basketball.
The Lady Cadets set the tone with a 7-0 lead in the first couple of minutes of the start of the game. McNamara’s head coach called a game-changing timeout in the first quarter to get his girls in the right mindset to have them tied at the end of the first quarter with the Cadets at 13.
At the start of the second, Cadet senior Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo set the tone by dominating the paint and boards with endless rebounds and put-backs to get her team hyped. Other Cadets stepped up as well, including junior Caramina Tañedo. Tañedo played terrific defense against one of McNamara’s top players, along with hitting a clutch three in the fourth quarter. Of that shot, Tañedo said, “I just kept telling myself ‘next play’ because that shot meant nothing if I didn’t contribute more for the team.”
With only two minutes left, sophomore captain Azzi Fudd flipped a switch and balled out for St. John’s, sending the game into overtime (OT). The Cadets were on a whole different level during OT as they escaped with a 67-65 win. After letting their victory soak in, senior captain Carly Rivera was trying to keep the win in perspective. “At the end of the day, it’s only January. We still have a lot to improve on if we want to win the championship,” Rivera said.
This win moved the Cadets up one spot to #2 in the latest USA Today rankings.