"People have been telling us that we don't deserve our ranking. But we wanted to prove that we're a good team."
The Irish, in fact, were so amped for the game that veteran coach Chris Palladino used her first timeout essentially to settle her team down - something that's not usually an issue five minutes into a nonconference, regular-season game.
Palladino's strategy worked - the nerves went away, and scrappy determination took over. Camden Catholic (10-1) took the lead with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first quarter and trailed for just one possession after that, despite a relentless effort by the Rams (10-1) to stay in the game until the last possession.
"It was exciting, a good defensive game," Palladino said. "We play tough and scrappy, and we don't make every shot, but we played hard."
The Irish did hit shots when it mattered most. After Rams forward Mary Gedaka (13 points) converted her fourth-and-one play of the game to make the score 40-37, sophomore guard Sierra Taylor (10 points) answered by banking in a three-pointer.
And Taylor wasn't done. Gloucester Catholic, in the bonus for most of the final quarter, went on a 5-0 run, all free throws, to close the gap to one with a little more than three minutes left.
But Taylor again drilled a three-pointer to give her team a cushion.
"The emotion I felt at that time was indescribable," Taylor said. "I just wanted to stay calm and collected. I knew what I had to do, and I put it all out there on the floor. And I just shot."
Kennedi Thompson, a junior transfer from Clearview, scored a team-high 15 points in her first game in a Rams uniform after sitting out the state-mandated 30-day transfer period.
"It wasn't a perfect game by us by any stretch," Rams coach Lisa Gedaka said. "But I thought we battled back."
Gloucester Catholic 11 12 11 12 – 46
Camden Catholic 12 15 12 9 – 48
GC: Becky Pund 9, Emily Lyons 3, Mary Gedaka 13, Maggie McIntyre 6, Kennedi Thompson 15.
CC: Cara Hardy 7, Cara Racobaldo 8, Michelle Obasi 10, Sierra Taylor 10, Julia Braurgart 6, Tialah Thorton 7.