CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Behind another record-breaking barrage of 3-pointers, St. Joseph Central’s small-school dynasty continued.
The Irish captured their sixth consecutive Class A state title by sinking 17 3-pointers during an 83-48 romp over No. 2 St. Marys on Saturday.
“We talked about coming with energy, because we didn’t the first two days” of the tournament, St. Joseph coach Shannon Lewis said. “Today the shots were falling, and it’s a tribute to these seniors who showed what they were made of.”
The six-year run surpassed Summers County’s record of five straight titles from 2007 to 2011.
St. Joseph (23-3) smashed its own single-game tournament record for 3-pointers, set earlier in the week. Griffin Dempsey led the way with 30 points, including seven 3s that tied her individual mark established in last year’s title game.
“I really don’t know what it is about (championship games),” said Dempsey, who has committed to UNC-Charlotte next year. “It being St. Marys helped a lot, but I think it’s just used to getting used to playing at the gym and getting into the flow of the game.”
St. Marys (24-2) got a strong performance from Ashley Hall with 19 points and six rebounds, though she also had six turnovers.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” an emotional Hall said. “I love these seniors to death and I’m really sad it’s over.”
Kendra Walker finished her stellar high school career 14 rebounds but only nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Mikaela Britton scored nine points while making 4-of-5 from the field, but said the Irish’s speed was too much to overcome.
“They are really fast and they know how to work well together,” Britton said.
In what quickly became a mismatch, St. Joseph hit its first three 3-pointers and led 21-7 after one quarter. The Irish forced 23 turnovers and committed only six, amassing a 31-5 edge in points off turnovers.
“We got (St. Marys) out of the zone quick and from there they were scrambling on defense,” Lewis said.
Rachel Lee, who surpassed the 1,000-point career mark, finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Mychal Johnson, who was banged up in the first half, returned to compile 15 points and nine assists.
Asia Petitte, an Evansville commit, rounded out the double-figures scorers with 13 points.
“Yesterday I struggled a little bit, and today I really wanted to come out and play well for the team,” Petitte said. “My whole goal was to win the state championship.”
In the waning moments of the game, as each Irish senior came off the floor to a standing ovation, Mychal Johnson was replaced by her little sister Mychelle. It was a fitting moment as they finished their last high school game together.
“I totally forgot she wasn’t in the game, and then I go to come out and it was my sister there,” Mychal said. “I kind of didn’t want to come out, because I wanted to play the last few seconds that I had with her.”
The Irish extended their win streak to 83 games over in-state opponents. Another facet of dominance: They have trailed only four times in 18 state tournament games since their run began.