"This game is like a state championship to us," said Gloucester Catholic forward Mary Gedaka, who recorded a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Both teams entered the game 9-0, but Gloucester Catholic, ranked No. 2 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, was heavily favored over unranked Gloucester.
Not that it mattered in an atmosphere that was at least as amped up as that of a typical postseason game.
A scrappy Gloucester squad even ended the first period ahead by 10-8. The Rams, though, as versatile a team as there is in the state, controlled play for most of the final three quarters.
"I always say, this game is like a Big Five matchup. . . . It's always going to be a great game," said Gloucester Catholic coach Lisa Gedaka, a former Villanova standout, member of the Big Five Hall of Fame, and mother of Mary Gedaka. "I give Gloucester credit. I thought they did very well defensively."
The Rams intensified their defense as they built a lead between the second and fourth periods. Alisha Fox's driving layup with seven minutes left in the final quarter was Gloucester's first basket of the second half. Gloucester Catholic was ahead by 41-27 before Fox (16 points) hit the Lions' next basket, a straightaway three-pointer with 2 minutes, 7 seconds left.
"We knew this was a huge game - the atmosphere is crazy," said senior guard Becky Pund, who had in 11 points. "We just had to keep our composure, and I thought we did that, even when we were down. We just never gave up."
Gloucester Catholic 8 11 10 17 - 46
Gloucester 10 7 5 12 - 34
GC: Becky Pund 11, Emily Lyons 6, Michele McCarthy 2, Mary Gedaka 18, Maggie McIntyre 9.
G: Alisha Fox 16, Makenzi Cooper 4, Taylor Blakiston 2, Kylee Hirst 12.