Big 3 in third quarter propels St. Mary's girls' basketball to 3A state title game against Colorado Springs Christian School

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Photo - St. Mary's players celebrate a 3-pointer at the University of Denver - Hamilton Gym on Friday, March 9, 2018. St. Mary's defeated Lamar to advance to the State 3A Championship against Colorado Springs Christian School.

(Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)
St. Mary's players celebrate a 3-pointer at the University of Denver - Hamilton Gym on Friday, March 9, 2018. St. Mary's defeated Lamar to advance to the State 3A Championship against Colorado Springs Christian School. (Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)

DENVER • St. Mary's senior Mary Cummings caught the ball and, without hesitation, flung the ball toward the basket.

It went in.

And the Pirates' crowd erupted. It wasn't technically the game-winner, but it could have been, as the 3-pointer late in the third quarter ultimately propelled No. 3 St. Mary's to a 48-36 win over defending state champion and No. 10-ranked Lamar in the Class 3A semifinals Friday at the University of Denver's Hamilton Gym.

"I was going on adrenaline, I saw the open shot and I took it," said Cummings, who entered Friday's game leading the Pirates with 55 3-pointers. "I was ready for it, and thank God it went in."

The Pirates (25-1) will face Tri-Peaks League foe Colorado Springs Christian School in the championship match at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hamilton Gym. The two teams split their season series.

On Friday, senior Makenna Bodette had a game-high 24 points, and sophomore Seneca Hackley chipped in 16 on three 3-pointers.

Cummings had only four points, but it was her shot from beyond the arc with 31 seconds left in the third that arguably changed the game. It put the Pirates ahead 35-30 after a back-and-forth contest against Lamar (21-5).

In the other semifinals game, CSCS jumped to a 21-0 lead and boasted a 31-point advantage late in the third quarter over Moffat County.

This semifinal matchup was far from a blowout. The Pirates endured six lead changes, had a not-so-comfortable 26-18 halftime advantage and only led by two before Cummings' big shot.

St. Mary's opened the fourth quarter on a 6-2 run to expand its lead to 41-34 before it became a free-throw shooting contest.

The Pirates held on by making six of 10 from the foul line down the stretch. Cali Clark, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, led Lamar with 14 points.

"Lamar's a great team, so we definitely needed that shot," Bodette said. "It definitely got us going for sure."

St. Mary's also got a couple scares in the third quarter, as sophomore Josephine Howery and Bodette - both starters - went down with what looked like ankle injuries, but they returned in the same quarter. From there, the Pirates kept on moving.

And now, St. Mary's returns to a state title game for the first time since 2013, when the Pirates lost 53-48 to Holy Family. They have never won a championship.

"We've been working hard all year, and this is our ultimate goal," Cummings said. "We're ready to go."