The 7th annual Pink Out game was a special day for the victorious Mount de Sales girls basketball team on Saturday and it was a grand day for Sailor senior Kristen Zaranski.
When Zaranski scored the 20th of her game-high 34 points, she reached 1,000 career points.
Her scoring and stellar team defense helped the Sailors (16-3) derail St. Paul’s, 62-48.
The win moved the Sailors to 7-0 in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference, while the Gators (11-2) dropped one game behind at 6-1.
The Sailors are currently tied with Mount Carmel (7-0) for first place.
“I definitely knew I only needed 20 points, but I mean we just do it for each other,” Zaranski said. “We are like a really close team and everyone just kind of does it for each other.”
St. Paul’s coach Pat Conrad was impressed with her performance.
“She can shoot and she definitely got some wide-open looks on in-bounds plays, on press break and just some regular plays,” Conrad said. “We didn’t take anybody for granted on that team. We knew one through five could score from anywhere, but she had a great game.”
Zaranski’s best scoring binge came in the third quarter, after the Gators had rallied from a 23-11 first half deficit to take a 31-30 lead on a layup by Laurie Sarchell with 3:52 left in the quarter.
The Sailors responded by scoring the final 13 points of the quarter, with Zaranski scoring 11 of them.
She started the run with 3:27 left, after a feed from Rachel Krug.
Zaranski’s 3-pointer with 2:20 left made it 35-31 and her free throw with 1:54 remaining pushed the lead to five.
A layup by Maura Devine bumped it to 38-31 and Zaranski hit her fourth trey of the game with 25 seconds left and the bulge was 41-31.
Her back-breaking final points came after the Sailors got the ball out of bounds at mid-court with three seconds left.
Abby Kuhn fed a streaking Zaranski and she scored on a layup at the buzzer.
It was the fourth assist for Kuhn, who added 15 rebounds, three blocked shots and four points.
“She always finds a way to get open,” Kuhn said. “I have like a connection to her.”
Zaranski, who scored 22 points in the second half, sensed the momentum swing and decided to shoulder the scoring load.
“When games are more intense, I tend to just kind of get in the zone and kind of like go for it,” she said.
Baskets by Madison Beale and Alex Sawyers early in the fourth quarter pulled the Gators within eight, 43-35, but they would never get any closer.
One of the keys to the victory was the defensive job Krug did on St. Paul’s top scoring threat, Destiny Ryles.
Ryles led the Gators with 15 points, but nine came in the fourth quarter.
“We couldn’t just do anything on Destiny,” Mount de Sales coach Trish Armstong said. “We had to have her straight up because they have shooters. They’ve got five people who can put the ball in the basket and they’ve got a great post inside.”
St. Paul’s coach Conrad knew from the outset that scoring would not come easy.
“We had a poor shooting outing across the board,” Conrad said. “If our guards see some shots go in earlier in the game, it’s a different story. We definitely had some struggles offensively.”
One of the keys was the Sailors ability to push the Gators perimeter offense well beyond the three-point arc.
“We are actually a very good three-point shooting team and we are athletic enough to get to the rim off the drive and we just didn’t see the ball go in,” Conrad said. “Mount de Sales did a great job of running us off the three-point line.”
The Gators did get back in the game in the first half when they pressed and rallied from down 23-11 with 4:18 left, to trailing by one, 23-22, with 2:07 left.
“We definitely execute well on the press,” Conrad said. “We practice it a lot. We’ve got the athletes good enough to pull it off.”
“I’ve got to give Pat credit, he threw it (press) on at the right time,” said Armstrong, who had to put Kuhn back in the game despite foul trouble during the Gators comeback. “When they had that little run in the second quarter, I just put Abby back in because she can play with fouls and she’s key breaking the press.”
Krug, who transferred from Dulaney last year, was also aware they needed their senior leader Kuhn.
“I started to worry a little bit and they were just attacking us and we only had two ball handlers, me and Maura and Abby is key to that press,” she said.
In addition to Kuhn, the Sailors also got solid hustle and work on the boards from Megan Matsko, who transferred from St. Paul’s this year.
Despite the loss, Conrad, was happy to play in the game that started in 2013 in honor of Carol Sauter. She passed away at age 47, on April 6, 2012, of breast cancer.
Sauter’s daughters, Katie and Megan, both attended Mount de Sales and spearheaded the inaugural game. The money raised from this year’s event goes to the St. Agnes Breast Cancer Center.
“The girls were excited and we actually know the Sauter family very well, so this is a personal experience for me and a couple of players on the team,” Conrad said. “It was definitely a big deal and we were happy to be invited.”
Carol’s husband, Mike, attended the game and the Sailors put on a show for him and the rest of the fans.
“It was definitely emotional this year because it was our last year for seniors,” Kuhn said. “It was our biggest crowd and we were ready to play for them.”
Mount de Sales 62
Kristen Zaranski 34, Maura Devine 9, Megan Matsko 6, Anya Walker 5, Abby Kuhn 4, Rachel Krug 4.
St. Paul’s 48
Destiny Ryles 15, Devan Conrad 10, Alex Sawyers 9, Laurie Sarchell 6, Madison Beale 4, Ava Wax 2, Leah Johnson 2.