Girls Basketball – Evans, Vianney Slide Past Neptune and Into 11th Straight SCT Semis
TOMS RIVER - The attention St. John Vianney senior center Kimi Evans drew in the low post Saturday against Neptune in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Pine Belt Arena created plenty of open looks for her teammates.
When those shots misfired during a stretch of the second half, Vianney's best option was its first - double-teams be damned: give the ball to Evans.
Evans scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help the third-seeded Lancers survive a stern challenge from the No. 6 Scarlet Fliers and advance to the SCT semifinals for the 11th straight year. Vianney will take on Red Bank Catholic in Monday's semifinal.
"My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball even when I was double and triple-teamed," Evans said. "That made life a lot easier for me finishing. I always encourage my teammates to take open shots. If you see me double and triple-teamed, I don't want them throwing the ball in most of the time because I'm confident they can make open shots."
Sophomore Sarah Karpell added 15 points, while sophomore Sajada Bonner and junior Madison Doring each contributed 12 for St. John Vianney, which went on a 16-4 run to turn a 39-38 deficit into a 54-43 lead late in the fourth.
Evans helped spark the 16-4 rally with a pair of baskets from close range, but she was not the only contributor. Karpell gave SJV the lead for good with a pull-up three to make the score 41-39 late in the third and scored on another pull-up from closer in to make it 51-43 early in the fourth quarter.
"I was trying to get our guards to attack more," St. John Vianney coach Dawn Karpell said. "Then, the help has to step and (Evans) can grab a rebound and things start to open up. It was a perfect storm (Neptune) played really, really well and did what they wanted to do to us and we weren't as smart as we wanted to be."
Bonner and Doring also hit a three-pointer each during the run as the Lancers shook off a poor-shooting third quarter. Before Karpell's three-pointer, Vianney was 3-for-13 from the field and all three were conversions in the paint - two by Evans.
Neptune senior Desiree Allen kept Neptune in the game and finished with a game-high 29 points. Senior Brianna Love also added 12 and senior Alexis Bennett chipped in 11 on three three-pointers in defeat.
Allen scored on consecutive drives during the third quarter to give Neptune its final lead, 39-38. The Scarlet Fliers also jumped in front 19-18 and 22-20 in the first half - both times on three-pointers by Bennett.
St. John Vianney will take on No. 2 RBC Monday for the second time this season after losing to the Caseys, 54-45, in Red Bank on Jan. 21. The Lancers are the defending SCT champions and have been regulars in the SCT semifinals, but only Kimi Evans returns from last year's starting five.
"Coming into the season, we kind of liked being underdogs for once," Evans said. "People didn't really expect a lot from us. We lost so many seniors from last year that people thought, 'Oh, SJV, they're going to be down and easy to beat.'
"I think we've done a good job overall in letting people know we're still here and we still want a championship."