Alyson Caiazzo admitted to not being a quick starter.
“Whenever there is something I always wait until the last minute,” the St. Saviour center joked.
Luckily for her team it didn’t take that long for Caiazzo to begin imposing her will on the team’s game with top-seeded Fontbonne Hall.
The Pandas senior scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds to help propel St. Saviour to a 55-46 win over the Bonnies in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division II girls basketball final last Saturday at Bishop Ford. It’s the nearby Park Slope school’s second title in the last four years.
“I remembered freshman year,” said Caiazzo, who also took over late in a semifinals win over St. John’s Prep. “I was part of the team, but I was just a freshman. I didn’t know what it meant. To finish with a win as a senior means everything to me.”
Junior forward Lilly Bradley had one of the most important games of her career by scoring eight of her 12 points in the second half and combining with Caiazzo for all 19 of St. Saviour’s points during an all-important third quarter. Ruby Scarantino added 12 points of her own. Katie Henderson led Fontbonne, which suffered its first loss to a league opponent this season, with 16 points, Annette Scotto had 10 points and Kate Oliver chipped in six.
St. Saviour trailed 22-18 at the half, but the deficit was short lived. The Pandas, who will face St. Vincent Ferrer on Monday in the opening round of the CHSAA Class B city playoffs, went on a 15-0 run on the strength of their defense and offensive rebounding, especially on the weak side.
Caiazzo came flying in for a board and 3-point play in transition, fed Bradley for a score and put back another miss to help make it 33-22 with 3:14 left in the third. Even after Henderson banked in a 3-pointer to try to respond, Bradley came right back with two more second-chance points.
“She was not going to be denied today,” Pandas coach Jim Gregson said. “It’s a senior moment here.”
The Bonnies won the regular-season title and lost in the final for the second straight year.
“They were in a funk today,” Fontbonne coach Steve Oliver said. “I just couldn’t get them out of it.”