STA Girls’Basketball State Champions
By: Khadee Hession & Kalia Harrington
St. Thomas Aquinas: a school renowned for top-notch athletic programs; but not girls basketball until recently. The girls’ basketball team won its third-consecutive Class 6A state championship on February 25th, beating Charlotte, 67-43, in the final game at the RP Funding Center.
“This was an incredible moment for us,” St. Thomas coach Oliver Berens said. “This season was a very tough season for us. We had to deal with a little bit of adversity in the beginning of the year, losing a player to injury, and we made sure to schedule ourselves a national schedule. Our end goal was to make sure that those games prepared us for these moments at the end of the season.” No. 1 seed St. Thomas finished 24-8 and became the 14th girls’ basketball program in the state to win three or more consecutive state championships. At one point in the season, the Raiders were 12-8 and won their next 12 games to finish out the season.“I tell the girls all the time, even though we come back here every year, this is extremely difficult to do,” Berens said. The game seemed to be won on the boards – especially the offensive glass – where the Raiders outrebounded Charlotte 43-28 overall and 18-6 on second-chance points.
“We had 18 offensive rebounds, which we told the girls was part of our plan. I thought it was a big part of creating the separation,” Berens said. “We had to adjust and play three different types of pressures. Ultimately, we were able to bracket them in.”
St. Thomas put three girls in double figures. East Carolina commit, Karina Gordon, with 20 points, Nyla McFadden with 15 and 9 rebounds and Kamryn Corporan with 13 points.“Nyla has had an unbelievable season,” Berens said. “She is someone we can really count on in these situations.”
The STA Girls’ team has faced a lot of adversity throughout their season but it was all worth it at the end when they completed their 3 peat. Karina Gordon and Reina Green are the 2 senior graduates who will be big losses for the Raiders next season but the remaining players have confidence in the team for next year and have hopes of repeating for their fourth state championship in a row.