Catherine Stinson is the ideal point guard. The 5-feet-7-inch senior can shoot, score, and pass and has subscribed to coach Fred Hogan’s all-out, fullcourt defensive pressure.
But what Lynn English fans have to admire most about Stinson is that she wants the ball in her hands when the stakes are the highest. Stinson has displayed her fearless leadership in the English backcourt against Division 1 powers Billerica, Woburn, and Central Catholic in the State Tournament. Before that there were Stinson-led wins over Newton North and Masconomet in the Spartan Classic.
Stinson had one of the best games of her brilliant four-year career in what Hogan called the “big building,” the Tsongas Center. She had 22 points to lead all scorers in English’s 52-49 victory over Central Catholic.
Stinson scored six quick points in the telltale fourth quarter and then added a key free throw down the stretch. She joined with teammates Diondra Woumn, Deidra Newson, Makayla Everette, and Samantha Holey in containing Central’s high-powered offense and notably denying backcourt ace Courtney Walsh a chance to tie the game in the final seconds.
“I was looking for my team to help me out with the ball when I was tired but I knew I had to do it because I’m the floor general and I control the team,” said Stinson. “When Central was coming back, I knew I had to do something. I’m excited about playing in the Garden. This is incredible. I didn’t know this was going to happen. I’m happy and I’m proud of my team and I’ll never forget this season. I never thought we would be 25-0. This is unbelievable.”
Stinson’s teammates were also proud to be playing in the TD Garden.
Deidre Newson hit the game-sealing free throws to ensure the trip to Boston.
“I was just hoping that I came back and made the last free throw because taking a timeout after a free throw just adds more stress to it,” said Newson. “Honestly, I feel like I’m dreaming right now. Going to the Garden, it’s too good to be true. I have so much faith in this team and I knew we could make it.”
Diondra Woumn, whose sensational 21-point performance helped English defeat Woburn in the semifinals, said she had confidence that her teammates would step up at the defensive end of the court.
“Defensively, I was just thinking this game is ours. I’m not walking away with a loss. I did it for my team defensively. We did it for everyone. We sold out for one another and that’s what it’s truly about. Our team is based on defense and Coach Hogan always tells us the offense is going to be there. If you’re solid on defense, it’s going to translate into offense.”
Makayla Everette had another strong performance in the paint.
“It feels really good to be going to the Garden,” said Everette. “We worked hard as a team. I felt I contributed my rebounding and aggressiveness on defense. Coach Hogan told us defense plays into the offense. If we just get out there on defense, the offense is going to come.”
Is St. Mary’s Big Three the best ever?:Rudolph, Mucciarone, Sandersare in a special class of players
We have to come up with a new label for what might be the best basketball trio in Lynn history.
St. Mary’s High School seniors Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders are known as the Big Three – which is what Celtics fans called the trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parrish during their unforgettable run to NBA championships.
The three St. Mary’s stars are in a position to accomplish something truly special: winning two state championships during their varsity careers. Coach Jeff Newhall recognized each player’s immense abilities from the outset, giving the then-freshmen major roles on the varsity team with Mucciarone and Rudolph as starters and Sanders coming off the bench. Newhall’s confidence in the group paid off as St. Mary’s won a Division 3 state championship in 2011.
And now the Big Three is back at the TD Garden seeking to get to Worcester by defeating defending state champion and Catholic Central League rival Archbishop Williams.
Rudolph has had a phenomenal senior season, soaring through the 1,000-point milestone. Her 36-point explosion against Bishop Fenwick in the semifinals ranks among the post-season’s all-time best.
Mucciarone, who reached the 1,000-point career mark first, was a thorn in Winthrop’s side with her trademark long-range shooting touch. If Mucciarone can warm up to the confines of the TD Garden, she could be the difference against Williams.
Like her teammates, Sanders has improved her all-around game and been the perfect point guard for this team. Totally unselfish at the helm, Sanders can also riddle defenses with her jump shot and patented drives down the lane.
So while we consider a new nickname for Jeff Newhall’s dynamic Big Three, let’s hope we can enjoy at least two more games of their teamwork and team spirit, beginning this afternoon at the TD Garden.
Jeff Newhall knows the three players are in an elite class of high school student-athletes.
“They’re not only great basketball players but tremendous kids,” said Newhall. “We’re going to miss their leadership and the example they set on and off the court. I know they wouldn’t want it any other way but to be competing in these incredibly big games to end their careers.”