WIESBADEN, Germany – Division III girls basketball favorites Brussels and Sigonella cleared the final hurdles Friday en route to their seemingly-inevitable championship matchup, posting concurrent semifinal blowouts to set up Saturday’s anticipated showdown.
Sigonella 40, Incirlik 16: The Jaguars have been following the familiar sports edict of “one game at a time” over the course of a successful season. Now, that approach has led them to the one game they’ve wanted all winter.
Geography denies Brussels and Sigonella the chance at encountering each other in the regular season matchup, but the programs still share a history. They meet annually at the European hoops tournament, and are perennial contenders in a variety of other Division III sports. Notably, Sigonella beat Brussels in November to win the European girls volleyball championship.
“The kids played each other in volleyball, a lot of the same girls,” Sigonella coach Michelle Chandler said. “They know who can do what.”
The second-seeded Jaguars showed what they could do Friday in ousting third-seed Incirlik. Katie Cauble led the way with 11 points and six steals and Sydney Moore notched a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Brussels 26, Menwith Hill 9: The top-seeded defending champions completed a season sweep of their regional rival to earn a shot at a repeat.
Teodora Vasileva produced an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double, including five points in the first quarter. Aleeza Vitale added nine points.
But Vitale’s contributions went well beyond the scoring column, Brigands coach Tim Como said. With star point guard Ali DeFazio sidelined by injury – and her status for Saturday’s title game uncertain – Vitale has shifted from her normal shooting-guard slot into the role of running the Brussels offense.
“She’s doing a great job. I’m asking her to do things she’s never done,” Como said. “She runs the offense, makes smart decisions. That’s why we are where we’re at.”