Nailed to the end of the bench for more than half the game, Cathedral Catholic’s Wendy Anae could have purchased a ticket for all the action she saw.
Three quick first-quarter fouls, an early third-quarter foul and a fifth near the end of the game limited the 6-foot-3, Utah-bound senior to just 14 minutes and 39 seconds in Saturday’s San Diego Section Division III girls title game with second-seeded Our Lady of Peace.
And the Pilots took advantage of Anae’s absence, beating the Dons 60-42 in Viejas Arena.
Kirsten Johnson, OLP’s 6-3 junior center, free to roam inside without Anae in the game, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Anae had nine points, seven of those in the 4:39 she played in the first quarter. She had just three rebounds.
“Honestly, I didn’t know Wendy was in foul trouble until halftime,” Johnson said. “I wondered why she wasn’t in the game, though. It was good for me that she wasn’t. And it was good for our team.”
Without Anae playing, the Dons were forced to double-team Johnson.
“That freed up our 3-point shooters,” Johnson said.
Sara Dale took advantage, swishing a trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter, all after top-seeded Cathedral (18-10) had rallied to tie the game at 30.
“Kirsten got the ball to me in my favorite spots,” Dale said.
Dale’s last two 3-pointers were at the end of the third quarter, pushing the OLP (23-8) lead from seven to 13 points.
“It’s really hard to win without your best player,” said Cathedral coach Sean Doyle. “I thought we took a couple of charges that might have changed the game, but we didn’t get the calls.
“We never got in a rhythm, got flustered. Wendy is such a big part of what we do, so we had some problems without her.”