There once was a time when the La Reine girls basketball team couldn't be beaten at home. But this season the Royals are having trouble maintaining a winning record and upsets don't happen that often anymore.
Yesterday, 10th-ranked O'Connell ventured into La Reine's colorful gymnasium and left the way it entered: undefeated in the Catholic Girls Athletic Association with a 63-40 rout of the home team.
Last year, Seton broke La Reine's 20-game home winning streak, but yesterday's defeat to O'Connell was more telling because the game's tempo was set from the opening tipoff.
"We were really ready for this game because we thought that they would give us a hard time," said O'Connell's Christie Finney, who had 22 points. "We are coming into a hard time in our schedule and we just didn't want a letdown."
O'Connell (20-1, 9-0 in the league) passed crisply around the perimeter all game and shot with confidence against La Reine's timid defensive pressure.
In O'Connell's lone loss this season to fourth-ranked Woodbridge, the Knights were thoroughly beaten up and down the court.
Six-foot Simone Rollings (seven points) and Angela Morton (seven points) dominated down low for La Reine (12-8, 6-4). But when the Royals' low post players misfired, O'Connell was off to the races.
Finney and teammate Erin Hollister, who finished with a game-high 23 points, were successful shooting from the outside. And other Knights players came to the forefront, making the game that much tougher for the Royals.
"They are just playing well and working hard," said O'Connell Coach Jim Spirodopoulos. "Sometimes we still don't do a good job at taking a little bit of time off the clock because we get too anxious, but we're getting there, I don't have any complaints."
In the third period, after La Reine had moved within 34-23 on an inside layup by Nicole Thorne (12 points), the Knights, led by Finney and Hollister, appeared eager to finish the game. With two minutes expired in the fourth period, O'Connell led, 52-29, and the hopefuls at La Reine saw their hopes of victory dwindle.