No matter what Gulliver Prep coach John Zambolla drew up inside the Ransom Everglades Middle School gym on Monday, he had no answer for St. Thomas Aquinas star 6-5 center Mary Katherine Moore.
Class 4A No. 6 Gulliver jumped out to a 22-13 first-quarter lead only to watch Moore spark Aquinas’ 40-37 come-from-behind victory at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Classic with a game-high 17 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Moore killed us,” Zambolla said. “She is 6-4, 6-5. Our biggest kid, who is a freshman, is only 6-2. We went to zone a little bit, but they were still able to get her the ball. At that size, no matter if you’re front her, she is huge.”
Moore’s size and ability to catch lob passes and finish over Gulliver defenders changed the complexion of a game that leaned heavily in Gulliver’s favor early.
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Gulliver raced to a 22-13 lead, sparked by Chloe Nixon banking in a shot while being fouled with 20.1 seconds left in the first quarter. Nixon completed the three-point play to cap a 9-0 run to close the first quarter.
But Moore scored 11 first-half points to draw Aquinas within 26-22 at halftime and then came up with timely defensive plays down the stretch to seal the victory.
With the score tied 36-36 and 2:47 left in regulation, Moore blocked Nixon’s shot, leading to Nastolgia Smith racing downcourt for the go-ahead baseline jumper.
Aquinas guard Deneah Ambroise (seven points) converted two free throws with 2:19 left before Moore tied up Carmila Wirshing on a drive to the basket with 1:31 left, preserving the 40-37 lead.
“We played with heart and came together,’’ Moore said. “We didn’t want to lose. We have had a couple close losses. Our last game we lost by one. I don’t think we liked that feeling. So we went out today and made sure it didn’t happen again.”
Mia Bellingherri’s steal with 36 seconds kept the door open for Gulliver to tie the score with a three-pointer. But Nixon’s desperation three-point attempt at the final buzzer fell short, sealing Aquinas’ comeback.
After scoring 22 points in the first quarter, Gulliver was able to muster only 15 points for the rest of the game.
Maji Stjepanovic led Gulliver with 13 points. Nixon added seven points.
St. Thomas Aquinas 40, Gulliver Prep 37: GP (19-4): Deutch 4, Bellingherri 2, Pyatt 2, Stjepanovic 13, Nixon 7, Wirshing 2, Thomas 4, Pagliery 2. STA (14-7): Moore 18, Datko 3, N. Smith 4, Carrabes 5, Ambroise 7, McNerney 3. Half: GP 26-22. Three-pointers: Carrabes 1, Deutch 1, Stjepanovic 3, Rebounds: Moore 17. Steals: N. Smith 3. Assists: McNerney 4
MLK Classic, Lourdes 75, Deerfield Beach 57: LOU (14-7): Jordan 37, Vidal 17, Sosa 7, Minervino 6, Kunkel 4, Couto 4. DB: Hadler 23, Powell 11, Swinton 7, Walker 5, Price 4, Williams 3, Smith 2, Griffin 2. Three-pointers: Jordan 8, Vidal 2, Sosa, Walker, Powell, Williams. Rebounds: Jordan 11. Steals: Minervino 6. Assists: Kunkel 5.
Late Saturday, Champagnat 85, Westwood Christian 73: CC (10-3): Cornish 20, Nairn 6, Chapotin 2, Collie 24, Nwachuku 5, Mackey 15, Parker 12. WC: Dustin H. 6, Jou 9, E. Joseph 22, Jack J. 15, Desinor 15, Bobby T. 3.
Late Friday, Champagnat 63, Calusa Prep 45: CC (9-3): Cornish 17, Nairn 6, Chapotin 5, Collie 15, Mackey 17 Parker 3. CP: Seda 18, Colon 8, Alexander 2, Fernandez 3, Levarity 3, Pena 8.
District 12-5A quarterfinals at Coral Glades: Monarch vs. Coral Glades, 5; Douglas vs. Coral Springs, 7
District 14-2A quarterfinals at North Broward Prep: Somerset vs. Pine Crest, 5; University School vs. Calvary Christian, 7
Somerset Academy vs. Archbishop Curley (CUR), 5:30
Northwest Christian vs. Hollywood Christian, 8:00
Blanche Ely vs. Northeast (NE), 6:00
Boyd Anderson vs. Westminster Academy (Home), 7:30
Hallandale vs. Cardinal Gibbons (Home), 7:30
South Broward vs. Coconut Creek (C. Creek), 7:00
Cooper City vs. West Broward (West Broward), 7:00
Western vs. Cypress Bay (Home), 7:00
Archbishop McCarthy vs. Dillard (DIL), 7:00
Douglas vs. Fort Lauderdale (Home), 7:00
Flanagan vs. Everglades (Everglades), 7:30
Somerset Academy vs. Archbishop Curley (CUR), 4:00
Northwest Christian vs. Hollywood Christian, 6:30
Northeast vs. Blanche Ely (Blanche Ely), 5:00
Coral Glades vs. Boyd Anderson (Boyd Anderson), 5:30
Cardinal Gibbons vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (St. Thomas Aquinas), 5:30
Coconut Creek vs. South Broward (South Broward), 5:00
West Broward vs. Cooper City (Cooper City), 5:00
Dillard vs. Archbishop McCarthy (McCarthy), 5:00
Fort Lauderdale vs. Douglas (Home), 5:30
Everglades vs. Flanagan (Flanagan), 5:00
Stranahan vs. Hallandale (Hallandale), 6:00
Western vs. Pompano Beach (Pompano Beach), 6:00
District 12-5A semifinals at Coral Glades: Taravella vs. Douglas-Coral Springs winner, 5; Deerfield Beach vs. Monarch-Coral Glades winner, 7
District 14-2A semifinals at North Broward Prep: University School-Calvary Christian winner vs. North Broward Prep, 5; Somerset-Pine Crest winner vs. Cardinal Gibbons, 7.
Hialeah Educational Academy vs. Somerset Academy (SOM), 7:00
Archbishop Curley vs. Sagemont (Sagemont), 7:00
Boyd Anderson vs. Blanche Ely (Home), 7:30
Dillard vs. Cardinal Gibbons (Home), 7:30
Cooper City vs. Monarch (Monarch), 7:30
Northeast vs. Coral Glades, 7:00
Plantation vs. Coral Springs (Home), 7:00
Douglas vs. Cypress Bay (Home), 7:00
Deerfield Beach vs. Pembroke Pines Charter (Pembroke Pines Charter), 7:30
Hollywood Hills vs. Miramar (Miramar), 7:30
Nova vs. Taravella (Taravella), 7:30
Hialeah Educational Academy vs. Somerset Academy (SOM), 5:30
Archbishop Curley vs. Sagemont (Sagemont), 5:30
Sheridan Hills Christian vs. LaSalle (LaS), 6:00
Piper vs. Mourning (Mourning), 6:30
American Heritage vs. Miami Country Day (MCD), 7:00
Gulliver Prep vs. Pine Crest (Pine Crest), 7:30
Boyd Anderson vs. Blanche Ely (Blanche Ely), 5:00
Cardinal Gibbons vs. Dillard (Dillard), 5:00
Monarch vs. Cooper City (Cooper City), 7:30
Coral Glades vs. Northeast (Northeast), 6:00
Coral Springs vs. Plantation (Plantation), 5:30
Cypress Bay vs. Douglas (Home), 5:00
Pembroke Pines Charter vs. Deerfield Beach (Deerfield Beach), 5:00
Miramar vs. Hollywood Hills (Home), 5:00
Pompano Beach vs. Taravella (Taravella), 5:30