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|The stellar season of the Father Ryan High School girls basketball team came to an end in the semifinals of the Division II-AA State Tournament on Thursday, March 2, at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. The Irish fell 52-35 to Ensworth and ended their season with a 25-3 record. Senior Allison Proctor looks to score. Photos by Andy Telli
Father Ryan High School girls’ basketball team finished short of its goal of a state championship, but that shouldn’t dull the luster of a 25-3 season, Coach Jason Larkin told his players.
“We told them you can’t define our season on this one game,” Larkin said after the Lady Irish fell 52-35 to Ensworth in the semifinals of the Division II-AA state tournament on Thursday, March 2, at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. “They put everything they had into each and every day.”
Father Ryan won its first 21 games of the season and rode the streak to the top ranking in Division II-AA in the state.
But in the semifinal game against Ensworth, Father Ryan started the game ice cold and fell behind 20-1 early in the second quarter. The closest they could get after than was to cut the deficit to 10 points.
At the start of the game, “we were pretty nervous,” Larkin said. “Audrey (Burdge) got in foul trouble pretty quickly, which hurt.”
Burdge, a senior who reached the milestone of 1,000 career points earlier this season, picked up two fouls in the first minute and a half of the game and headed to the bench. Larkin sent her back into the game 4 minutes later with Ryan trailing 14-0. She picked up her third foul with about 6:30 left in the second quarter and missed the rest of the first half.
“When she’s not on the court it hurts,” Larkin said. Much of Ryan’s offense flowed through Burdge, whose scoring ability helped create space for her teammates to operate, he explained.
Early in the game, “we had some turnovers, they got some easy baskets, and we found ourselves down 12 points right off the bat,” Larkin said.
In the second half, Burdge scored nine points before fouling out the game with a little over 4 minutes left in the game, just after Ryan had cut Ensworth’s led to 38-28. The Lady Irish would never get any closer.
At halftime, Larkin’s message to his team was to get back to the stifling defense that had been Ryan’s hallmark all season. “We got it cut to 10 but then we had some costly turnovers. Their pressure had something to do with that,” Larkin said. “We didn’t take care of the ball like we should.”
Ryan struggled shooting the ball all game. In the first three quarters, the Lady Irish made only one of 21 field goal attempts. In the fourth quarter, they made five of 15 and finished the game shooting 16.7 percent from the field.
Allison Proctor led Ryan in scoring with 14 points, including two three-pointers. Burdge contributed nine and Emily Carletello chipped in eight points, including two three-pointers.
Father Ryan will lose three senior starters to graduation, Burdge, Proctor and Abigail Wehby. The trio of seniors were leaders who set the tone for the team the whole season, Larkin said.
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