To say that last night's Catholic League tournament semifinal between No. 6 St. Mary's and Seton-Keough was over before it started isn't far from the truth.
Actually, it was over in the first quarter, when the top-seeded Saints built a 25-2 lead. From there, they rolled to an impressive 74-43 victory at the College of Notre Dame.
St. Mary's (22-3) advances to today's 4 p.m. final against the winner of last night's other semifinal. By virtue of their 13-1 regular-season league record, the Saints already have earned a spot in the Metro Classic March 1 at the Arena against City-Wide champion Walbrook.
According to St. Mary's players, however, the chance to knock perennial league power and No. 4 seed Seton-Keough (9-12) was incentive enough. By winning, the Saints denied the Gators a shot at their sixth straight tournament title.
"Seton-Keough has always been our rival, and we'll stick it to them to make our point if we have to," said St. Mary's guard Randall Goldsborough, who scored eight before being pulled early in the third quarter. "We're trying to make up for the past few years. There's a lot of pride in this game."
St. Mary's dominated most of the game, especially the first quarter. The Saints scored 25 straight and held the Gators scoreless for 7 minutes, 48 seconds, forcing 10 Seton-Keough turnovers.
"We just tried to do what we've done all year -- play pressure defense and overplay," said St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson.
To the chagrin of first-year Seton-Keough coach John Joyce, that's exactly what happened.
"My worst fears came true," said Joyce, whose team lost all five starters from last season. "I knew that playing on a big court against a team with their athletic ability could present a big problem."
Bridget Smith led St. Mary's with 22 points, followed by Amelia Mikula with nine and Missy Holmes and Goldsborough with eight apiece. Helen Marie Meiser led the Gators with 12.