So good and so Saintly

The Seton Catholic Central High School girls basketball team wears its medals for winning the Federation Tournament of Champions Class B title March 26 in Glens Falls. Lexi Levy, the lone senior starter, capped a remarkable varsity career by scoring 17 points and earning the Class B Tournament MVP honor. - SUN PHOTO | RYAN HAYNER

Seton girls blast Bronx team, win state tournament

By Ryan Hayner

Contributing writer

   GLENS FALLS — History was made and records fell March 26 in the Federation Tournament of Champions Class B girls basketball title game. Seton Catholic Central High School sank a single-game tournament record 16 3-pointers and capped a banner season with its first Federation crown in dominating fashion, 83-43, over Bronx Aquinas at Glens Falls Civic Center.

   As the buzzer sounded, starters Lexi Levy, Hanna Strawn, Ava McCann, Julia Hauer, and Marina Maerkl — who had been watching from the bench for much of the fourth quarter — sprang to their feet and embraced as the rest of the team closed in for the on-court celebration. 

   “This is all that we’ve worked for. We all deserve it,” Strawn said. “We worked so hard, and a lot of people don’t see behind the scenes, even out of the season. We’re a family, and we’ve been looking forward to this, and now it’s finally here.” 

   “They’ve been talking about it since this group has been together,” Seton Catholic Head Coach Colleen Jayne said. “That has been their ultimate goal before Lexi graduated.” 

   Levy, the lone senior starter, capped a remarkable varsity career by scoring 17 points and earning the Class B Tournament MVP honor.

    But it was McCann who stole the show Sunday. The junior sharpshooter hit a single-game tournament record eight triples on her way to a game-high 24 points. That gave her 13 3-pointers for the tournament, also a record. 

   “It was the result of a lot of hard work, going in the gym on days off, snow days, on holidays, whenever I can get in,” McCann said.

   The Saints (28-1), as they have done much of this post-season, raced out to a commanding early lead and never let up. Seton Catholic, on the strength of nine first-half triples, took a 48-20 lead into halftime.

   Seton shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and 45 percent for the game. 

    “We were talking in the locker room and we were like, ‘Finish and focus. Finish and focus,’” Maerkl said. “We came out with the energy that we wanted to, hit the shots that we wanted to.”

   Strawn added 10 points, eight assists, and six rebounds for the Saints, who finished the season on a 26-game winning streak. Hauer added 11 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, and four assists, and Maerkl chipped in with eight points, nine rebounds, and two assists.

  McCann, Strawn, and Hauer joined Aquinas sophomore Kira Villegas on the Class B All-Tournament Team.

   Villegas and Ronella Kennedy led the Bears (24-6), the Catholic High School Athletic Association champions, with 14 points each. Kennedy also grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. Genesis Velez, who earned the Sportsmanship Award, added 10 points.

   Seton Catholic outscored its Federation opponents 167-81, winning by margins of 46 and 40.

   Levy chalked up the success the Saints achieved to their efforts off the court. 

   “It’s the hard work we’re putting in in the gym, waking up at 6 a.m., getting shots up,” Levy said. “Nobody sees that part, and they’re always like, ‘Why are you guys so good? How do you guys do this?’

   “It’s because of the outside stuff. So, I want to thank our coaches for all of that, they really push us to be our best.”

   The Saints will return four starters — Maerkl, Strawn, Hauer, and McCann. Levy, heading off to play at George Washington University, is predicting a lot more success for Seton Catholic.

   “I think they’re going to bring it home again next year,” Levy said. “They’re amazing.”

   Coach Jayne said Broome County Executive Jason Garnar, Binghamton Mayor Richard David, Seton Principal Matthew Martinkovic, and President of the Catholic Schools of Broome County Richard Bucci attended a pep rally March 21 at Seton. The team received the Key to the City, the coach said, the highest honor in the city.

   The Broome County Sheriff’s Department escorted the Saints out of town March 24 on their way to the Federation Tournament, and then escorted them back to the school after they won the championship.

   “I’m pretty proud of them,” Coach Jayne said. “I’m always looking to make sure the right people get their due. They’re an exceptional group that are driven and focused. I just led them in the right direction, and they got it done.”