Believe it or not, the Division II girls basketball Tournament has gotten easier for Seton Catholic.
After getting through those tough early round games, the Sentinels earned a spot in Saturday’s title game with an easy, 52-27 win over Tucson Palo Verde in the state tournament semifinals Thursday at Grand Canyon University.
Third-seeded Seton had advanced to the semifinals with five-point victories over Arcadia and Tucson Flowing Wells. This was supposed to be toughest matchup to date for the Sentinels. It ended up being a laugher.
"We didn’t expect this, but we came out and played hard and that was enough," Seton forward Julia Barcello said.
Up next is the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Jobing.com Arena. It is where Seton (24-8) will go after its third straight championship. The Sentinels won the 4A-II championship in both 2010 and 2011.
Another victory and the Chandler school will have a half-dozen championships under coach Karen Self. If that happens, it will be with a team that has only three seniors, none of which start.
Seton got 13 points from junior Susan Spinner, 10 points and four assists from junior guard Anne Marie Holter and nine points, 14 rebounds and four assists from Barcello, a sophomore.
But it was the defense and rebounding that won this game for Seton which had a 42-28 advantage on the boards. The Sentinels also limited the Titans to 21 percent shooting from the field.
"We did it on the defensive end,” Self said. "We’re not going to overwhelm anybody with our size or athletic ability."
But Seton did overwhelm the Titans and did sp early. This game was over midway through the first quarter as Seton built an 11-0 lead. It was 21-2 and the end of the quarter. It was Spinner who hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the baseline in the final minute that really humbled the Titans.
"Susan came out on fire for sure," Self said.
Palo Verde (25-6) shot just 13 percent (3-of-24) in the first half and trailed at intermission, 32-6. Seton slowed down the pace in the second half and ran a more methodical offense to keep the clock running.
Syndi Stallworth had 10 points for Palo Verde. Seton’s defense forced the Titans to take wild, crazy shots from all over the floor early in the game. Barcello also did a lot of the dirty work in the paint guarding the bigger and stronger Darian Saunders. Saunders, who Barcello said is the biggest and most physical post player she’s guarded all season, had seven points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.