NEWTON — Woburn High girls' basketball coach Steve Sullivan had it right when he said of the Final 4, following Friday night's win over Winchester: "At this point in the season, every team is good, it's just a matter of who plays better."

Both the Tanners and Bishop Feehan showed their worthiness of reaching the final over the course of Monday night's MIAA Division 1 state Final 4 semifinal game, at Newton South, but it was the Shamrocks who played better in the fourth quarter to secure a 53-47 win and a trip to the state final.

Woburn rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to tie the game, 36-36, heading into the fourth quarter. The score remained tied (46-46) with four minutes left, but Bishop Feehan got the sixth 3-pointer of the game from Madelyn Steel, and then went on to outscore the Tanners, 7-1, the rest of the way.

"The girls battled to the very end, true to themselves, they never quit, they never gave up," said Sullivan, whose team finished 22-3 overall, counting all of its games. "They went down early, fought back in the third quarter to tie it up, and took the lead in the fourth quarter. They (Shamrocks) hit some really big shots and they are an excellent team."

Woburn trailed at the half, 26-17, and was still down nine when Cyndea Labissiere ignited a 9-0 run with two free throws with 2:20 left. The Shamrocks missed a pair of free throws and then Labissiere brought down the house, on the Woburn side of the stands, with a Euro-step, three-point play.

Labissiere then found Hannah Surrette for a basket before tying the game just before the quarter ended, off a feed from Meghan Qualey.

"This team just does everything the right way," said Sullivan. "They fought to the very end. They lost today, but it really wasn't for lack of effort. As coaches, we couldn't be prouder of them."

The Tanners took their first lead since late in the first quarter when Mckenna Morrison found Labissiere for another bucket. It was 38-38 when Surrette knocked down only the second trey of the game for Woburn. Shannon McCarthy made one of two free throws to give the Tanners a four-point lead, 42-38.

Woburn maintained the four-point lead when Riley Morgan scored off a pass from McCarthy, but then came a crucial stretch of the game.

Steel, a sophomore who already had three 3-pointers in the game, hit two more on back-to-back possessions, to erase the four-point lead and put Bishop Feehan up two, 46-44, with 4:19 to play.

McCarthy got an inside bucket to tie the game, 46-46, with four minutes left, but that would be the last basket for the Tanners.

"The’ve got shooters, they’ve got drivers," said Sullivan, of the Shamrocks. "They did a really nice job and really hurt us on the glass. The offensive rebounds hurt us."

That's exactly what happened on what turned out to be the winning basket. Bishop Feehan pulled down an offensive rebound and found Steel at her favorite spot on the left side. She nailed it for her sixth three and later sank two free throws for a game-high 21 points.

"We were trying to stay home on her (Steel) but they moved the ball around really well," said Sullivan. "She hit some big shots on us."

Once they had the three-point lead, the Shamrocks played smart, focusing on defense and milking the clock when they had the ball, limiting Woburn's chances to score in the final minutes.

"That is what basketball is, back and forth," said Sullivan. "We missed some opportunities and they made some shots. I thought some of their threes were off offensive rebounds by them, and kick outs, which are the toughest thing to guard in basketball."

Bishop Feehan went four-for-four from the line to get the lead up to six, after Qualey hit a free throw to give Woburn a chance. The Shamrocks were eight-for-eight in the fourth quarter from the charity stripe, 12-for-16 overall.

"These girls have nothing to be ashamed of, I couldn't be prouder," said Sullivan. "The seniors on this team, their leadership and their four years on the team gave us an incredible run."

It was Samantha Reale, who had 17 points, who burned the Tanners in the first half. It was 15-12, in favor of Feehan, when Woburn ratcheted up its defensive pressure. Labissiere had a steal and layup to cut it one, and then the Tanner pressure forced an errant pass led to an interception and a chance for Woburn to take the lead.

Instead the Tanners turned it over, leading to a Reale three-point play down the other end. Charlotte Adams-Lopez followed it up with another three-point play, and all of a sudden the Shamrocks had a seven-point lead, 21-14. Bishop Feehan continued on a 13-3 run to take an 11-point lead, 26-15, with a minute left before halftime.

McCarthy and Amber Hayden made one free throw each to get the deficit down to single digits going into the halftime intermission.

"We struggled to score," said Sullivan, of the first half. "I thought we got decent looks in the first half, we just didn't finish. I thought we rushed some shots in the first half, the second half we finished a little bit better."

Labissiere led the Tanners with 15 points, while McCarthy had 11 points. Qualey had six points and Surrette had five off the bench.

"To make it to the Final 4, to lose to this Bishop Feehan team, is a tremendous accomplishment," said Sullivan. "What these girls have accomplished, the seniors and the other girls, over the course of the year, I know it's tough now for them, but when they look back over what they accomplished, they should be very proud of themselves. We were close but they just got us."

Labissiere and the other three captains will be hard to replace, but there were several players on the bench last night, who will be working to try an be ready to win a starting slot, or be one of the first players off the bench for next year's team, in what should be an ultra-competitive Middlesex League Liberty Division.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.