Ever since the Division II girls basketball bracket was unveiled nine days ago, it was anticipated top-seed Seton (30-3) and No. 8 South Mountain (26-4) would hook up in the quarterfinal round. Way too early in the tournament given both teams ability, but that's what happens when an upset takes place in a sectional and makes a mess of things.
The two teams that topped the D-II power-rankings virtually all season battled Tuesday in the quarterfinals and the outcome went the distance and more. Seton senior Julia Barcello drove hard to the basket with 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and she led the Lady Sentinels in overtime to a 54-44 victory over the talented Lady Jaguars at Jobing.com Arena.
Seton moves on to the semifinals on Thursday (Feb. 27) to face the Kingman-Buckeye winner at 6 p.m. at Jobing.com. Barcello tallied a game-high 19 points, freshman Jennifer Wirth added 15 points and senior Heather Heild had 10. Seton outscored South 19-5 over the course of the foruth period and overtime to prevail.
"We told the girls all week that we might be behind at the end of the first quarter, the second quarter and the third quarter, but to win we had to outlast them," Seton coach Karen Self said.
That's pretty much how the game played out although Seton led by one after the opening period and at halftime. Things got dicey ffor Seton after three periods as South managed to open up a six-point lead in the quarter and led 39-35 heading to the fourth.
Barcello picked up her fourth foul late in the third period and that's when South opened up its six-point lead, which in this game was a huge margin until late in overtime. A three-point play by South's Natashia Barker ((team-high 14 points) with 1:50 left in the third sent Barcello to the bench and South gained its largest lead.
A tight, tense defensive struggle ensued in the final period as Seton outscored South, 6-2, in the period to earn the extra session. Baskets by South's Krisynthia Sampson and Seton's Wirth made it 41-39 with 3:32 to play.Turnovers and jump balls were the norm the rest of the way until Barcello converted her game-tying hoop at :10.
The overtime period was where Seton was able to outlast South. Wirth opened the scoring with a driving layuup, looking like Barcello in doing so with 3:33 to play. Seton stretched the floor with the two-point lead and South had two possessions to tie, but missed a shot and was called for an offensive foul on the other.
Barcello then put Seton up 45-41 with a strong move to the basket at the 1:11 mark and added another with :48 seconds left after South's Najiyyah Pack made one free throw. With Seton up 47-42, Pack missed a perimeter shot and Heild got the rebound, was fouled and made both free throws. South pulled within 49-44 with 29 seconds left, but Barcello tallied four more points and Wirth chipped in a free throw to send Seton to the semifinals.
Pack, South's leading scorer, was limited to seven points. That's 10 below her average. She was defended mostly by Seton freshman Liz Holter, but others took turns on occasion.
Self was quite pleased with the play of freshmen Holter and Wirth.
"We had a tough time scoring at times because South's defense is so strong," Self said. "When they took the lead it was because they kept us from scoring. Liz did a great job on defense and we've been telling Jennifer to take the ball strong to the basket. She did it today."