Lady Knights take HS cage title


Two Mt. Carmel School players battle a Tinian High School player for a rebound during their championship game in the 2016 Public School System Basketball Tournament last Friday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Mt. Carmel School capped its perfect run in the 2016 Public School System Basketball Tournament with a 45-25 domination of Tinian High School in their title game last Friday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

Karleen Reyes, Jan Travilla, and Jennifer Villagomez provided the needed offense for the Knights to power their team to the finals victory. Reyes scored a game-high 24 points, while Travilla and Villagomez added 13 and 8, respectively.

The Lady Knights were all business in the championship showdown, giving Tinian no chance at all to force another game in the battle for the high school crown. Mt. Carmel had a twice-to-beat advantage going into the title duel after winning its first two games in the winner’s bracket. Tinian, on the other hand, came out of the loser’s bracket, stunning Marianas High School, 48-43, in the battle for the last finals seat to foil the anticipated Lady Knights-Lady Dolphins title encounter.

Mt. Carmel opened the finals with a 6-0 run off Reyes, Travilla, and Villagomez’s fastbreak baskets. Tinian then sued for an early timeout, hoping to stop the Lady Knight’s strong start, however Reyes and company kept going in the first quarter. By the end of the first 10 minutes of play, Mt. Carmel was enjoying a 19-1 advantage, thanks to Reyes’ 11 points and 6 from Villagomez. Sophia Cruz gave Tinian its lone point in the first quarter after splitting her charities.

Tinian continued to struggle offensively in the second quarter, while the Lady Knights’ offense also slowed down as coaches Catherine and Mark Toves brought in their second and third stringers at the start of that period.

“We want to give our young players more exposure since two (Travilla and Reyes) of our key players are on their last year with the team,” Catherine said.

With the Lady Knights’ starters out, Tinian sliced the deficit to single digits at the break, 13-22. Tinian finally nailed its first field goal at the 7:24 mark of the second canto off Cruz’s undergoal stab and she made one more basket, while Karrie San Nicolas, Thia King, and Nicole Clamor also hit the board. Travilla, who reported back to the match late in the second canto, knocked in a triple for the team’s lone basket in that period.

“Despite scoring only one basket in the second quarter, we told the girls just to keep their focus on the game and not mind the scores. Just keep playing as a team and do their best every time they are on the floor,” Catherine said.

At the start of the second half, the trio of Reyes, Travilla, and Villagomez joined forces anew and finished off Tinian to keep the Lady Knights’ flawless record in the one-day tournament. Mt. Carmel defeated Saipan Southern High School, 39-16, and MHS, 27-16, to move into the finals.

Despite their earlier easy victories, the husband-and-wife tandem kept reminding their players not to be complacent.

“We learned our lessons from the TanHoldings holiday tournament and Settsu-Saipan competition. We were playing so good in the preliminary games only to get eliminated in the playoffs,” Catherine said.

The Lady Knights lost to Sun Palace in the semis of the TanHoldings holiday caging, 40-46, and to MHS in the Settsu tournament, 26-32.

“Before each game, we kept reminding our players to focus on the match we are playing. Regardless, if we are ahead by a big margin or behind by just 1 we have to keep playing our game. We have to be mentally prepared for every game, whether we are facing a strong team or not,” Catherine added.

The Lady Knights coach also tipped her hat to Tinian for showing a lot of heart and discipline during the tournament.

“They came down to play the whole day and played their hearts out every match. I hope we could see more from them in future tournaments,” Catherine said.

The MCS players and coaches also would like to thank PSS and the tournament organizers for inviting the Lady Knights to the competition.

MCS 45 — Reyes 24, Travilla 13, Villagomez 8.

THS 25 — Cruz 7, San Nicolas 6, T. King 4, Rosimo 4, R. King 3, Clamor 1.

Scoring by quarters: 19-1, 22-13, 28-18, 45-25.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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