Good Counsel and St. John’s set up the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference girls’ basketball final most would have predicted before the season by advancing with semifinal wins Sunday afternoon at Bender Arena.

They will meet in the championship for the third straight year at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bender.

In the first game Sunday, No. 1 St. John’s held Elizabeth Seton to a season-low scoring total in a 54-40 victory.

In the second semifinal, No. 3 Good Counsel staved off No. 7 Paul VI Catholic, 55-49, also a season scoring low for the Panthers.

St. John’s is in the final for the fourth consecutive year; Good Counsel, the defending conference champion, is in for the seventh time in nine years.

The Falcons won last year’s title game, 79-76.

“It’s not as easy as those stats make it sound,” Good Counsel Coach Tom Splaine quickly pointed out.

Elizabeth Seton led after the first quarter on Sunday but scored only three points in the second. Despite being outrebounded 10-1 on the offensive boards, commiting 11 turnovers and taking 20 fewer shots than St. John’s (29-1) in the first half, the Roadrunners trailed only 22-16 at the break.

The closest that Elizabeth Seton (19-10) could get was 31-27 when senior guard Janelle Hubbard hit a three-pointer with 58 seconds left in the third period.

The lead was back to six by the end of the quarter, and St. John’s sophomore Amari Carter scored nine of her 14 points in the fourth period.

By the Cadets’ count, they missed 28 layups, yet still they were able to advance.

Senior guard Lindsay Allen scored 20 points, including going 9 for 9 at the foul line, and senior forward Tori Oliver had eight points and 10 rebounds.

“Our defensive effort was phenomenal,” St. John’s Coach Jonathan Scribner said. “We won that game on the defensive end. We were very poor on the offensive side. When you hold a team defensively, you can kind of get away with that.”

Said Allen: “It definitely wasn’t one of our best games. Down the stretch we focused on the little things and made big plays to win the game.”

In the second semifinal, Paul VI, vying for its first WCAC championship appearance since the league formed in 1994, missed 24 of its first 27 shots and trailed 33-16 with 51 / 2 minutes left in the third quarter.

From that point, the Panthers rattled off 10 consecutive points from five players.

Later, they twice closed the deficit to two, the last time with 6 minutes 9 seconds left in the game on a drive to the basket by junior forward Ariana Freeman, who scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half.

It was a three-point game with 39 seconds left and Good Counsel (25-4) missed the front ends of two one-and-ones in the last 20 seconds.

“I love the fact that we had the mental toughness to fight off [their run] toward the end,” said Splaine, whose team grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to three for Paul VI.

Senior forward Amanda Fioravanti led Good Counsel with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Junior guard-forward Sara Woods added 12 points and seven rebounds and senior guard Lindsey Spann had 11 points and several assists, some of them crowd-pleasing no-look passes.