NEW CANAAN — It’s good to be the Queen.
The St. Luke’s girls basketball team will make its seventh consecutive appearance in the Fairchester Athletic Association Tournament final and look to earn its fifth straight championship thanks to a 68-53 semifinal home win over Sacred Heart Greenwich Wednesday night.
The victory means that No. 1 seed St. Luke’s (19-5) will host No. 2 Greens Farms Academy on Friday at a time to be announced for the tournament crown. GFA nipped Hamden Hall, 48-46 in Wednesday’s other FAA semifinal.
“We talked a lot about tradition before and after this game,” St. Luke’s coach Matthew Ward said. “The girls take such pride in working to be the best in the FAA.”
St. Luke’s, which beat No. 4 Sacred Heart Greenwich for the third time this season, used its 11-player rotation to focus its defense after Sacred Heart (10-15) took its only lead in the contest, 25-24 with 6:00 left in the second quarter.
St. Luke’s closed out the second with a 13-3 surge. The Storm had a 10-2 run early in the fourth quarter to settle the issue at 60-44 with 5:13 to go.
Freshman center Brielle Renwick had six points in the final surge as she returned after sitting out with three fouls. Renwick paced the St. Luke’s offense with a game-high 22 points.
“Brielle loves to battle in the paint. She knows she can make a real difference on the court,” St. Luke’s coach Ward said. “She has improved steadily throughout the season. She’s been a really good finisher the past month. When she succeeds, it seems to carry over to our entire squad.”
Although St. Luke’s has just three seniors — Janelle Johnson, Sophie Kriftcher and Alexia Watson — on its roster, the Storm is a veteran group considering its years of postseason experience.
“We recently saw our 43-game road winning streak end. But we love any opportunity to play at home in front of our students,” Ward said. “We always try to play an ambitious schedule. This year we lost to Tilton Academy and Brooks Academy in a tournament in Boston. But the experience gave everybody confidence we’ve been able to carry forward.”
For St. Luke’s, Summer Klein scored 14 points while Caroline Lau and Janelle Johnson each added 11. However, the Storm was just 12 of 25 on free throws.
For Sacred Heart Greenwich, senior co-captains Morgan Smith (career-high 15) and Leah Atkins (12) paced the Tigers. While eighth-grader Payton Sfreddo chipped in 10 despite foul trouble.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
St. Luke’s Brielle Renwick: The freshman center scored 22 points, rebounded well and defended against opposing center Sarah Augustine to lead the Storm to its seventh straight FAA Tournament final.
“Our defense was good. We stopped St. Luke’s from making a lot of 3-pointers (four). Our kids believed and it will help our younger players going forward,” said Sacred Heart Greenwich coach Ayo Hart. “Senior Morgan Smith played perhaps the best game of her career. Her defense on (St. Luke’s guard) Caroline Lau was tremendous. We will miss senior Leah Atkins as well. She was a calming influence who made good decisions and set the tone for us each game.”