GIRLS BASKETBALL: Cardinal Mooney pulls away from Everest Collegiate to reach state semifinals for first time since 2009
Katie Theut is fifth sibling for Cardinals to reach Final Four
BY DAN STICKRADT
WATERFORD — All eyes were on Katie Theut Tuesday.
The fifth and final female basketball standout at Marine City Cardinal Mooney Catholic lived up to her legacy by leading her teammates to a 43-36 victory over fourth-year program Clarkston Everest Collegiate Tuesday in the Class D state quarterfinals at Waterford Mott.
Theut finished with 16 points, three rebounds and three blocked shots in helping her team reach the Final Four for the first time since 2009.
The youngest of five sisters will join her siblings Amanda, Sammie, Allie and Sarah as playing on a Final Four squad. Mooney advanced to Thursday’s 6 p.m. state semifinal at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. The Cardinals will face Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (21-5), which defeated Frankfort 49-35 in another quarterfinal Tuesday.
“We’ll talk about it at home, for sure,” said the youngest Theut. “I remember being in the stands when I was in seventh grade and watching three of my sisters reach (the Final Four). I wanted so bad to be able to do that.”
She’ll get that chance.
The Cardinals (18-7) outscored Everest in three of the four quarters, including 8-6 in the fourth frame to reach the semifinals.
“This is the fourth Theut we’ve had to make it this far. We had three on the 2009 team,”
recalled Cardinal Mooney coach Susan Everhart. “All eyes were on her to see if she could lead her team. But we had a lot of girls step up in this game. We beat them three times this season and we made sure they didn’t come back on us late. The last time we lost to them at the buzzer.”
Senior guard Lauren Higgins added 14 points, five rebounds and three steals. Junior guard Hannah Armstrong provided seven points and senior center Madison Southers contributed 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Cardinals.
Everest Collegiate (18-7) opened its high school doors in 2009 with only 20 ninth and 10th graders. The following season, the Mountaineers shared a CHSL division title and then have now won districts in back to-back years.
This year’s team also captured its first regional and advanced further in the postseason than any other program, boys or girls, in its short-lived history.
“I am incredibly proud of what this team was able to accomplish,” smiled Everest coach Erin Van Wagoner. “To be just a fourth-year program and being able to get this far is quite an accomplishment.
“As a coach, I’ve dreamed of this, but also understood how difficult it is to get this far, especially being such a young program,” continued Van Wagoner. “For not being ranked, we had an incredible season. We came a long ways. I think when these seniors were sophomores, we lost to Cardinal Mooney 62-29.”
Cardinal Mooney led 12-8 after the first quarter and used a 10-7 edge in the second quarter for a 22-15 halftime advantage.
Everest Collegiate outscored Mooney 15-11 in the third quarter and led 30-29 with 1:49 left in the frame on a layup from Lucia Westrick.
The lead was short lived.
Cardinal Mooney closed the frame with a 4-0 run, including a three-point play from Theut with 28.4 seconds left for a 33-30 advantage. The Cardinals led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, the largest at 38-30 with 4:28 remaining.
“I thought we did a nice job in the post, not allowing them to get the ball inside,” said Everhart. “I knew they would try to make a comeback. I thought we did a nice job in the fourth quarter after they took the one-point lead in the third. I think we wore them down with our size.”
Westrick, a two-year starter after playing for a home school team in Ohio her first two years of high school, bowed out with 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Senior forward Mary Jo Allen added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Mountaineers.
“I am proud of the three seniors that have been here all four years, helping us build something when there was nothing to look up to,” noted Van Wagoner. “We have a lot of girls in the middle school playing basketball and the future looks bright. But our seniors set the bar for our program.”