The Greece Athena girls basketball team defeated Mercy 65-36 on Thursday night to claim the Section 5 Class AA title for the sixth time in the past 10 season.
The top-seeded Greece Athena girls basketball team defeated No. 3 Mercy in the Class AA finals on Thursday night, giving the program its sixth sectional title in the past 10 seasons under head coach Mike Butler.
The Trojans dominated throughout and held a 53-21 lead early in the fourth quarter when their starters left the court to a standing ovation from the Athena faithful. The team would go on to win 65-36, and will now face Class AAA champion Penfield (21-0) in the state qualifier on Monday night at back at Roberts Wesleyan College.
After falling to Mercy in the finals two seasons ago, Athena controlled this contest from the tip. With the Monarchs in a zone to start the game the Trojans facilitated their offense through the high post, resulting in quality looks at the basket. Senior Shannon Kirkpatrick led the charge with 10 points in the first four minutes as Athena jumped out to a 14-2 lead.
Kirkpatrick proved to be too much inside for the Monarchs, as she finished with a game-high 24 points on her way to earning tournament MVP honors.
Despite an attempt by Mercy to mix up their defensive sets, Athena continued to build its lead. On the offensive end the Trojans limited their turnovers and used crisp passing to get good shots. On the defensive side, they used man-to-man pressure to keep the Monarchs out of sync and searching for open looks.
“We really took advantage when they extended their defense,” said Butler. “We were able to work the ball inside, and our guards made some great passes into the post.”
Seniors Dana Cohen and Brittany Brown helped get Kirkpatrick going early, then provided some offense of their own. Cohen, in her fourth year on varsity, finished with 10 points and commanded the offense with precision passing. Brown, in her third year, caused problems for Mercy throughout with her inside-outside game and added eight points.
The Trojans defeated Irondequoit in the quarterfinals and Churchville-Chili in the semifinals. Their birth in the finals marked the ninth time in 11 seasons the team has reached the championship game.
Kirkpatrick, Cohen and Brown were selected to the Class AAA all-tournament team along with Sam Sorge (Mercy), Tylar Guerrieri (Mercy), Janae Guy (Canandaigua) and Kayla Brahm (Churchville-Chili). Butler was named Class AAA Coach of the Year.