St. A's girls capture NIT hoops title
The St. Apollinaris eighth-grade girls basketball team is (from left) Olivia Henderson, Katelyn Leveque, Coach DeBlauw, Bridget McLoughlin, Maddie Long, Vendela Aguayo, Emilie Dolan, Michelle DeBlauw, Jackie Frappia, Anna Lee, Natalie Slavonia, Illiana Keith, Coach Leveque and Michaela Rossi, with “cheerleading mascot” Isabella Wright in the foreground. Not pictured is Teresa Saenz. Submitted photo

The St. Apollinaris eighth-grade girls basketball team won the 20th Napa Invitational Tournament, recently hosted by St. John’s Lutheran School.

 It was the first title won by a St. A’s girl’s team in the tournament’s history.

The Shamrocks (10-1 overall) won their opener against Zion-Anaheim, 45-30. Zion took an early lead but St. A’s fought back to take a 19-17 lead at halftime. The Shamrocks outscored Zion 16-3 in the third quarter as their aggressive, full-court pressing defense forced numerous turnovers that led to easy lay-ups and produced a 15-point lead.

All 12 players contributed in the victory, led by Michelle DeBlauw (12 points, 11 rebounds, five steals, five assists), Vendela Aguayo (eight points, four assists, three steals), Katelyn Leveque (seven rebounds, three steals, two assists, two points) and Bridget McLoughlin (four points, tworebounds).

In its second game, St. A’s faced cross-town and league rival Blue Oak. Short-handed Blue Oak squad battled hard but was unable to contend with the Shamrocks’ relentless pressure defense as they took a 27-6 lead by the break and cruised to a 46-14 victory.

St. A’s was led by DeBlauw (10 points, 10 rebounds, 8 steals, 6 assists), Olivia Henderson (10 points, nine rebounds), Emilie Dolan (eight points, four steals) and Natalie Slavonia (four points, 10 rebounds, four steals).

St. A’s edged the St. John’s Lutheran Eagles 34-30 in the championship game. The Shamrocks got off to a quick start and led 16-1 at the end of the first period. St. A’s went cold in the second and third quarters, however, and the Eagles stormed back and trailed only 25-21 at the end of the third period.

St. John’s was able to cut the lead to two points in the final quarter, but St. A’s converted on five of six free throws late in the game to earn a hard-fought victory. Dolan (12 points, seven steals), DeBlauw (six points, 11 steals, nine rebounds), Olivia Henderson (six points, three rebounds), and Natalie Slavonia (four points, six rebounds, four steals) led the Shamrocks.

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