Corcoran sparks Sacred Heart
The final score was 42-26, Sacred Heart. But let's go back to when the game turned; when the groans in the crowd became "ooh!" and "ohh!"
Back when Kellenberg led 14-12 in the third quarter and Sacred Heart seemingly flipped a switch. When Nina Corcoran flipped the script.
The guard stole the ball at mid-court and scooped in a layup to tie it at 14 with 5:11 left in the third. She made a pass into the paint that set up Jenna Pasquale's three-point play for the go-ahead score. She drove into the lane and hit Ally Rosenthal on a cut with a bounce pass for a quick layup. She converted a three-point play. Then she swished a 15-foot jumper. Then drew a foul and hit a free throw. Then got a steal and found Becky Conto for a wide open layup. And by quarter's end, the scoreboard, which had idled for much of the first half, read "27-14."
Not a bad five-minute sequence, huh? Corcoran finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, seven steals, three assists and two blocks in a jack, err . . . Jacqueline-of-all-trades performance, leading the Spartans over their CHSAA rival Saturday. Rosenthal had 12 points and six rebounds, Pasquale added nine points, and Kyle Carey had five assists.
"It was a really low-scoring first half," Corcoran said, alluding to the 12-12 score at intermission. "Our shots weren't falling and we weren't going up strong. We had to fix that if we were going to win."
To what do you attribute the third-quarter turnaround and eventual 16-0 run? "This was a game we needed, coming off a loss," Corcoran said. "We were reminded of that, so we came out fired up in the second half."
Sacred Heart (3-2) utilized a press-and-trap defense that forced several turnovers and the defense, Rosenthal said, "was what sparked the offense."
Corcoran's steal and fast-break layup gave the Spartans their largest lead -- 41-24 -- with 1:34 remaining.
"We were playing good defense all along, but the shot selection was poor," said Conto, who had six points and four rebounds. "We improved that, got some easier baskets, and mixed in some 1-3-1 zone defense."
Sacred Heart did benefit from Kellenberg star Khadijah Donaldson's reduced minutes. She and her mother were involved in a car accident that resulted in a trip to the hospital Friday evening. Neither was injured, Khadijah said, but coach John Heitner had the center come off the bench and limited her minutes -- particularly in the first half -- as a precaution.
"The x-rays came back fine, but I woke up with a headache so I wasn't completely sure I'd play," said Donaldson, who entered with 3:15 left in the first quarter and scored six points. "I was a little rusty, but I felt OK."
Katie Sirna and Brenna Donnelly each added five points for the Firebirds (3-2).
But Corcoran: "She plays great team and individual defense, handles, shoots, can run some point guard," Spartans coach Dennis O'Brien said. "She does a little bit of everything."
In one five-minute span, though, she did a lot of everything.