Fontbonne falls short, but season remains memorable

Fontbonne Hall’s memorable season was basically over.

The Bonnies, Class B city champions for the first time, trailed Sacred Heart (L.I.) by 20 points in their CHSAA Class B state semifinal, but they were playing like their lives were on the line. They dove for loose balls, drew court burns, sprinted from one end of the floor to the other, treating their bodies like they could trade them in for a new set afterward.

“I’ve never seen a team work so hard, be so intense the whole game,” junior guard Jillian Oliver said.

The all-out effort, however, wasn’t nearly enough in a 50-26 loss last week to Sacred Heart. Oliver’s left knee injury – she heard a pop as she went up to block a shot – two minutes into the opening quarter created a void coach Steve Oliver was unable to plug. Junior Annette Scotto said the Bonnies lost confidence without Jill Oliver, their emotional leader on the floor. Their best defender and a solid outside shooter, she was instrumental in the title victory over St. John’s Prep, drawing three charges.

“I went to block a shot and I fell on it wrong,” Jill Oliver said. “It hurt not having the starting five on the court, but I’m still proud of my team.”

The Bonnies (16-5) didn’t shoot well from the perimeter, managed just 13 points in each half and were beaten off the glass. Fontbonne trailed 25-13 at halftime, fell behind 31-13 and never could get closer than 13 the rest of the way. Katie Henderson, Justina Johnson and Scotto each scored eight points in the season-ending loss. Taylor Higgins led Sacred Heart (8-13) with 21 points.

The lopsided defeat hardly diminished the season, which included the Brooklyn/Queens Division II regular-season title and a CHSAA Class B city crown, in Steven Oliver’s eyes.

“Tremendous year,” he said. “The girls gave me everything. We’ve definitely taken a step in the right direction. We’re starting to get recognized. Kids that picked Bishop Loughlin or Bishop Kearney are picking Fontbonne.”

Although Fontbonne graduates four players, including starters Sarah McCarthy and Johnson, they return Jill Oliver, Henderson and Scotto. Next March, the goal isn’t simply to get back to the state tournament.

“We’re hoping next year we can get this far and win states,” Scotto said.