In a hard-fought girls’ basketball championship contest, St. John’s College High School pulled away from rival Bishop McNamara High School in the fourth quarter and claimed the 2019 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title with an impressive 66-51 victory on Feb. 25 at American University’s Bender Arena.

The Lady Cadets earned their third consecutive WCAC title for their Washington, D.C., school and improved to 32-1 overall on the season (21-0 WCAC regular/post-season; 11-1 in non-league games). It was the Cadets’ 10th WCAC girls’ basketball title overall.

"Tonight, we wanted to hang our hat on the defensive side of the ball" said veteran St. John’s head coach Jonathan Scribner.

St. John’s, in the 32-minute affair, forced 14 turnovers and McNamara forced 10.

The girls’ basketball team from Bishop McNamara in Forestville, Maryland, dropped to 29-3 overall on the season (18-3 WCAC regular/post-season; 11-0 in non-league games). All three Mustang losses were to the Cadets.

The Mustangs narrowly led 12-10 and 40-38 after the conclusions of the first and third quarters respectively. The game was tied 23-23 at intermission.

In the decisive fourth quarter, McNamara took their biggest lead of the contest at 45-39 with 6:47 remaining after a bucket by Aliyah Matharu.

Less than a minute later, St. John's senior Alex Cowan knocked down a trey to give the Cadets a 46-45 lead – a lead that they would not relinquish following a 7-0 St. John’s run.

Coach Scribner noted, "We knew that they would go on one of their runs and then we would go on one of our runs.”

Alex Cowan commented, "We were a little slow in the first half – we knew that we had to pick things up [in the fourth quarter].”

From that point forward, St. John’s would lead on 21 separate junctures – 14 of which were double digit.

Reflecting on his team’s championship victory, coach Scribner said, "Carly [Rivera] (St. John’s senior point guard) did a good job handling the ball. We also did a good job rebounding.” Senior post Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo pulled down 11 boards. 

St. John’s coach noted that the team’s seniors have “been together for a long time, and they have been unbelievable.” St. John’s champions compiled a 96-5 overall record over the past three seasons combined).”

McNamara head coach Frank Oliver, in his third season, noted that his team had “foul trouble in the fourth, and they had their veterans on the floor. I am proud of where the program is. We are headed in the right direction and we plan to compete for a title every year.” The girls’ basketball team from Bishop McNamara won titles in 2008 and 2003.

The Cadets were paced by sophomore Azzi Fudd (32 points/three treys), Cowan (15/two treys), Tshitenge-Mutombo (13) and Rivera (six/two treys).

The Mustangs were paced by senior Jakai Brown-Turner (16/two treys), junior Liatu King (eight), senior Aliyah Matharu (eight), junior Madison Scott (seven/seven rebounds), senior Christina McPhail (five/one trey), freshman Yonta Vaughn (five/one trey) and sophomore Kayla Thomas (two).

St. John’s knocked down 23 of 28 free throws and seven treys.

McNamara knocked down five of eight free throws and four treys. 

The WCAC All-League selections for girls’ basketball chosen by coaches included:

Girls’ Coach of the Year: McNamara's Frank Oliver

Girls’ Player of the Year: St. John's Azzi Fudd

Girls’ First-Team: St. John's Carly Rivera and Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo; McNamara's Jakia Brown-Turner and Aliyah Matharu; Our Lady of Good Counsel's Jessica Tomasetti; Bishop Ireton's Akunna Konkwo; Bishop O'Connell's Makiya Simons and Paul VI's Ashley Owusu

Girls’ Second-Team: McNamara's Liatu King and Madison Scott; Archbishop Carroll's Maria Gakdeng; Academy of the Holy Cross's Bria Fuller; St. Mary's Ryken's Chalon Miles; Elizabeth Seton's Tian Addison; Ireton's Sym Shackleford and Paul VI's Lee Volker.

Girls’ Honorable-Mention: St. John's Alex Cowan and Caramina Tanedo; McNamara's Aniya Bell and Hope Evans; Carroll's Alexis Black and Taniya Lawson; Good Counsel's Zahra Barnes and Kadidia Toure; Holy Cross's Laila Grant; St. Mary's Ryken's Kaela Dothard and Chinwe Irondi; Seton's Gia Cooke and Tyler Gray; Ireton's Kennedy Clifton and Sydney Peters; O'Connell's Ajia James and Maura Leverone and Paul VI's Jaelyn Talley and Lizzie Thibodeau.