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Cha, Satchell combine for 38 points to give St. Paul’s basketball win over Spalding, 63-61

The St Paul's School for Girls basketball team huddles together during a game against Archbishop Spalding on Monday, Dec. 16.
The St Paul's School for Girls basketball team huddles together during a game against Archbishop Spalding on Monday, Dec. 16. (Kyle J. Andrews)

St. Paul’s and Archbishop Spalding faced off in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland basketball matchup Monday, and the B Conference Gators took down the A Conference Cavaliers, 63-61.

Guard Esprit Cha (18 points) and forward Laurie Satchell (20 points) combined for 38 points to lead St. Paul’s. The two also set the tone on the defensive side, tying up their opponents to regain possession in key moments. Their intense play was key to their team’s success.

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“It’s one of our main goals to run the other team off of the court and then to push the ball when we get it,” Esprit said. “So, I think that it’s one of our goals, and when we accomplish that, it helps us win.”

Satchell led her team in points the entire way, but she credited her scoring ability to her teammates finding her in open spots.

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“We were really practicing on looking up because throughout the game, I was open a lot because they were pressing the guards,” Satchell said. “I was just telling them ‘Look up guys, I’m open in the back’. We also have the chemistry with each other because we’ve been playing with each other as a team — most of us for two years now.

“So, we kind of know where we are on the court at and sometimes without looking. We just know the other person is going to be there.”

In the first quarter, Satchell scored 10 points. St. Paul’s led 18-11 and scored 16 in the second quarter to lead 34-27 at the half. Koi Sim and Kamari Sims were tied with nine points at the half for the Cavaliers.

St. Paul’s continued to hold the lead in third quarter, 50-43. Things got tight in the fourth quarter for the Gators, and they eventually lost the lead after Spalding’s Terra Dzambo hit a 3-pointer at the 3:38 mark to put the Cavs up 57-54. Satchell tied the game at 60 with less than two minutes to go, and then came the fireworks for St. Paul’s.

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Alex Sawyers hit a floater to give the Gators a 63-61 lead. On the defensive side, Satchell tied up Kamari Sims to regain possession of the ball to end the game.

“It was huge,” St. Paul’s coach Pat Conrad said. “We talked about it in the locker room, knowing that she [Sawyers] had a tough time scoring tonight, but we always talk about taking the shots that you’re supposed to take. If you see an opportunity and you know you can split the gap, take the shot.

“The big thing that I try to stress is confidence. Everybody can shoot, but as soon as they get in their head and start thinking ‘Oh I’m missing’ or ‘I can’t do this,' they won’t score at all. For her to come back and be resilient at the end of the game as a senior — she’s one of our captains — to show the whole team that she’s not afraid to go put it up.”

Spalding’s Koi Sims finished with 22 points to lead all scorers and Kamari Sims had 18 for Spalding. Their effort, along with Dzambo’s 11 points and Leah Johnson’s seven off the bench in place of injured starter Farrah Peterein, brought the Cavaliers close to victory.

“We’re down an injury with a starter that was also on the bench,” Spalding coach Lisa Smith said. “I applaud my girls for the fourth quarter, but you have to give all of the credit to St. Paul’s because they came out from the start. We put ourselves in a hole again from the start and didn’t find that sense of urgency until the fourth quarter.

“We have to be a little bit better there, but we had an outstanding offensive performance by Koi on the inside and we don’t have very many fresh legs. Though, these girls are experienced enough to be able to finish out these games.”

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