Fenway won its first Division 4 state championship.
“Coach always told us that it’s all mental focus,” said 5-foot-4 guard Kayla Cox. “If we could stay focused and stay on our objective as a team, we’ll hold out at the end, and that’s what we did.”
Fenway (19-3) came out strong, leading Greater New Bedford 15-14 behind junior guard Tajanay Veiga’s eight-point first quarter.
Greater New Bedford (21-4) bounced back to a 26-22 halftime lead with a 12-2 run led by senior forward Stephanie Antoine, who scored six of the 12.
“We told them, look they’re here to win, too,” said first-year Fenway coach John Rice. “You can’t pout, you can’t cry because they want to win as well, so we needed to keep playing our game and keep fighting them, but at the same time keep smiling and having fun.”
Fenway tied the score at 37 behind Jalissa Ross’s eight points in the third quarter.
Greater New Bedford was led by Antoine -- the second tallest player in the game at 5-foot-10 . She finished with 16 points.
“We had one team score 50 points on us all season and [Antoine] gave us a lot of trouble,” Rice said. “We made some adjustments and only held her to two points in the second half, doubling down on her in the zone to try and take her out and it worked.”
Veiga scored eight points to start the game, but was scoreless until late in the second half. She finished with 13.
“I just told myself that my shots weren’t always dropping so I’m going to get my teammates involved because without my team, I’m nobody, so I gave them the ball and they made the baskets,” Veiga said.
Fenway outscored Greater New Bedford 21-12 in the second half, sparked by a 10-0 run led by Matthews and Cox.
“I really just wanted to win and it’s my last year so I just wanted to give my team the best effort as possible and Cadejia was huge for us,” Cox said. “My coach kept telling us it’s mental and as long as you stay controlled, we can hold it out to the end and we did”
Cox finished with 15 points and Matthews had 12.
“Fenway is a wonderful school and I’m just so blessed to coach this team,” Rice said. “The fans are just awesome and for a city school to have that kind of support is just awesome for me and the girls.”
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