The eighth-seeded Trojans (14-6), who upset No. 1 seed Lansing in the quarterfinal round, jumped to a 5-0 lead inside the first minute-and-a-half. That spurt marked Newfield’s biggest cushion, though, as Unatego scored the next six points to set up a back-and-forth battle until the final minute.
“I think we gave them a really hard game,” said Newfield coach Gary Emerson, who had five players contribute at least six points, including a team-best 12 from senior forward Erica Carney. “We gave them all they could handle.”
So, too, did the Spartans, who received double-doubles from Manzanero and 6-foot-3 junior center Marissa Woodard, 10 rebounds from senior forward Robin Foster, and eight points from sophomore reserve forward Cassidy Newman.
Woodard was particularly effective in the opening quarter, when she had 10 points and six rebounds to help the Spartans to a 14-11 lead.
“I came into tonight thinking this might be the last home game with our seniors,” said Woodard, whose length and soft touch resulted in 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. “I feel like I do a lot better when the girls are not nearly as tall as me. Unless they’re really, really athletic, I feel like I just do really good when people are shorter than me. I’m a lot more confident.”
Said Bonczkowski: “Marissa has something you can’t teach; she has some size. She’s a good basketball player, she gets in there and is capable of getting rebounds and finishing. We’ve been working on finishing in practice and keeping the ball high and tonight, she got opportunities and made them count. You have to applaud her for that.”
Sarah Mannina’s only basket - a three-pointer from the right diagonal 15 seconds into the second period - gave Unatego its largest lead at 17-11. Newfield fought back to reclaim the edge on a three-point play by Lindsey Wood, who made it 22-21 with 2:50 left in the first half, but the Spartans went into the break with a 26-24 advantage thanks to three free throws from Newman and a putback by Foster at the buzzer.