The girls basketball team at St. Jerome School in Westchester captured back-to-back Los Angeles Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) championships with a 19-15 victory over Notre Dame Academy at the Staples Center Wednesday, February 27th.

The CYO title added to two pre-season tournament championships and a league championship for the St. Jerome Lady Spartans, who finished the season with an undefeated record of 21-0.

In the CYO championship game against the Notre Dame Academy Lady Knights, St. Jerome trailed by three points at halftime. The Lady Spartans made the necessary adjustments at the half to attack Notre Dame’s fierce defensive effort, coaches said.

With 3:32 remaining in the game, the Lady Spartans took their first lead on a basket by Courtney Gaardsmoe. Notre Dame bounced back to tie the score, but Mallory Rawson scored the go-ahead basket with 1:12 left in the game.

A defensive steal by Gaardsmoe led to two free throws by Kim Willis to secure the win with just 30 seconds remaining. The victory is the fourth CYO championship for St. Jerome in the last 12 years.

The Lady Spartans had only two returning starters from last year’s championship team, but they overcame the odds to return to the Staples Center to defend their title, coaches said.

Over the last two years, the Lady Spartans have accumulated an overall record of 41-2 and currently hold a 33-game winning streak dating back to January 2007.

The team includes Mallory Rawson, Courtney Gaardsmoe, Kimberly Willis, Kayla Richard, Michaela Cunningham, Katie Furtivo, Laura Heppell, Nicole Dominguez, Kayla Rayford, Quincy Keaton, Cienna Lennon and Blair Thompson.

The team coaches are Mike Rawson and David Knox.

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