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Sachem East basketball coach Matt Brisson retiring

Sachem East girls basketball coach Matt Brisson to

Sachem East girls basketball coach Matt Brisson to retire. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

The announcement came a little prematurely. After word of Matt Brisson's intent to retire after this season hit the Internet and spread quickly Friday morning, the coach discussed it with his team.

After 30 years of teaching health and physical education at Sachem East, and a sparkling decade of coaching its girls basketball team, Brisson had decided to call it a career.

The timing of the announcement wasn't ideal, he said. He had hoped to keep the decision quiet, fearing it would cause a distraction for his team hours before the Flaming Arrows were to compete for the Long Island championship.

The players thought differently.

"All it did was give us extra motivation and fire," senior Katie Doherty said before the game.  "We've been saying for a while, 'We're all in this together,' but him retiring made it even more so, especially for the seniors, knowing that our last game is also his."

Though the Flaming Arrows fought, showing every bit the mettle and resolve that has marked their run of success, the team's last game was the Long Island championship. Baldwin came from behind in the final minute to edge Sachem East, 50-47, and capture the Class AA L.I. title. And so ended another remarkable season for the Arrows, and the remarkable career of its coach.

Brisson, who became the head coach in the 2002-03 season, finished with a 218-48 record. He led Sachem East to two Long Island championships, most recently in 2013, and a state title in 2010. The record includes a 32-12 mark in the postseason.

"It's been an amazing ride and I've loved it," Brisson said. "I've been blessed and very fortunate to have great kids over the years and I'm really thankful... But I'm retiring from teaching, so I felt like it was time to give up coaching as well."

This season, Sachem East went 16-7 in what was expected to be a rebuilding campaign, with only two players returning from last year's team (Kathleen Everson and Doherty) and a roster comprised mostly of inexperienced girls. Still, the Arrows captured a second straight Suffolk championship with a series of comebacks and upsets in the playoffs, including rallies to beat No. 2 Huntington in the semifinals and No. 1 North Babylon in the final.

"He's had a really great career here and he's someone we like and respect," Doherty said, "so this is a big deal. He'll definitely be missed."

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