Marianas High School completed a rare three-peat after topping the 2021-2022 IT&E Interscholastic Girls High School Basketball Championships.
The Lady Dolphins of head coach Dan Wollack bucked a slow start to upend Tinian, 27-21, at the jampack and sweltering hot MHS Gymnasium last Saturday.
MHS actually was down early as Lana Famaw dominated the inside and gave Tinian a 12-8 lead. The Tinian center, however, was waylaid by early foul trouble and had to sit down and that’s when the Lady Dolphins made their move. A triple by Shaina Mendoza whittled down Tinian’s lead to just a candlestick, 12-11, and then a drive by MHS point guard Destiny Pangelinan moments later gave them the lead for good, 13-12.
The Lady Dolphins would eventually close the half with an 6-3 run to take a 19-15 lead at halftime.
After misfiring a lot of easy shots in the first half, center Angel Roligat came alive in the second as she single-handedly carried MHS’ offense. After Tinian halved the Lady Dolphins’ lead to a deuce, 21-19, Roligat scored on a layup with 2:20 to go to make it a 23-19 advantage for MHS.
Tinian replied with a lone free throw and Roligat came back with a floating 4-footer to make it 25-20 with time down to 1:38. Tinian had a chance to come closer when Famaw was fouled attempting a triple with 22 ticks left on the clock, but Tinian’s hulking center made only 1 of 3 from the stripe. Roligat then put the finishing touches on MHS’ back-to-back-to-back championships by making 2-for-2 from the stripe.
Roligat paced the Lady Dolphins with 15 big points, while Pangelinan added 7 points in addition to her brilliant quarterbacking of the team. The rest of the three-peating team is made up of Pauline Jorce, Kina Rangamar, Raina Avelino, Kyna Salas, J.C. Ferrer, Marielle Lopez, Abby Tamparong, and Amaya Reyes. Famaw led Tinian in the loss with 10 markers.
Wollack gave kudos to his players for not panicking despite the early deficit in the winner-take-all finals.
“The girls calmed down and we’ve dealt with adversity all tournament long and you grow as a team. Being down and being in a tough situation they just kicked into gear and we started to play really aggressive defense. Once we played tough D and made it really difficult for Tinian to score, then our offense became a lot easier,” he said.
He also praised the team’s leaders—Roligat and Pangelinan—for steering the team to the victory, especially the latter for overcoming her early shooting struggles.
“Both Angel and Destiny we have all sorts of confidence in and that’s basketball sometimes shots are not falling like we want them to. But we tried to simplify things and get the ball through the hoop and make layups rather than shoot from the outside. So just get to the hoop, make easier shots, and they started falling. Once they were comfortable, they (shots) kept falling more and more,” said Wollack.
The MHS head coach also thanked his lucky stars that Tinian’s best player, Famaw, had foul trouble early and that led to MHS’ fightback.
“We got really lucky that No. 12 got into foul trouble very, very early and we tried our best to attack her because she had four fouls very early in the first half. So, she had to play different defensively than probably she would have and we used to that to our advantage. We’ve won three straight and we’re hoping for No. 4 next year!”
Wollack also said while other teams may have two coaches on their bench, MHS had the privilege of having four and he extended his thanks to Preston Basa, Jun Del Rosario, and Gabrielle Race for helping him successfully navigate the short three-day tournament.
And speaking of the tournament that was shortened due to COVID-19, Wollack said downsizing the league to the shorter tourney format was the best thing to do under the circumstances.
“It’s great. You saw how competitive everyone was and how much the crowd was really into it. Although we didn’t have a regular season it’s still a great atmosphere. I’m so proud of everyone and all the schools. Even though we didn’t play a regular season the girls were committed and coming to practice every single day of the week and we’re working on our Team Dolphin basketball.”
Results of the 2021-2022 IT&E Interscholastic Boys High School Basketball Championships will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Saipan Tribune.
MHS 27 – Roligat 15, Pangelinan 7, Mendoza 3, Lopez 2
Tinian 21 – Famaw 20, Carreon 6, Cing 2, Dela Cruz 1.
Scoring by halves: 19-13, 27-21.