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Pingley, Gaels finish record season

February 26, 1999|By JACK HILL III

Without a postseason tournament to look forward to, the St. Maria Goretti girls basketball team has been busy accomplishing goals during its final week of the season.

Tuesday night, they clinched their second straight Apple Valley League championship. In their season finale on Thursday night, the Gaels recorded their 30th victory.

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Melissa Pingley dropped in a game-high 17 points, and Jennifer Piccolomini had a triple-double in her final game as the No. 7 Gaels routed Broadfording Christian Academy, 65-22.

Goretti's 30 wins set a new school record, and the last one came on the strength of Pingley's outside shot. The senior finished with five 3-pointers - three during the second quarter to help the Gaels extend their lead to 33-16 at halftime against the Lions (25-4).

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Pingley dislocated her right knee 30 seconds into the fourth quarter - one of several injuries that forced her to miss seven games earlier in the season - but had it popped back into place.

Pingley didn't play any more, but knew she had already done more than her share for the night, and the year.

"It is a record (30 wins) at Goretti that I don't think will ever be beat," Pingley said. "I am so glad to be a part of it. We have so many talented players and, on every night, somebody different steps up. We can go inside and our 3-point shot has been a threat all year. It is a great group of girls to play with. We only have eight girls on the team and it is the nicest group of girls that I have ever played with."

Goretti also got some contributions from its other seniors. Piccolomini finished with 13 assists, 10 rebounds and 10 points. Center Brianne Hamilton collected 14 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists. Forward Laura Seibert added 10 rebounds and eight points.

Junior forward Andrea Benavides had the early hot hand, scoring six of her 12 points in the first quarter and adding four steals.

"We just had a great season," St. Maria Goretti coach Gary Carter said. "Our team motto this season was to accept challenges and we met that goal. We had four seniors that just loved to play the game of basketball. They showed good leadership. They are good role models both athletically and academically. The senior leadership was a big part of our consistency this season."

"We tried to stress all year long that whoever is open or hot, then that person should get the ball," Carter added. "We did a pretty good job of doing that all season."

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