Garden City's roster is filled with champion athletes, just no players who ever had a big role on a championship-winning girls basketball team.
With a number of lacrosse and field hockey champs on its roster, the sixth-seeded girls basketball squad added a title of its own, getting big plays down the stretch from Taylor Carpentier, Kerry McCarraher and Becky Reifler to hold on and beat No. 4 Floral Park, 40-36, Saturday at LIU Post.
Garden City (17-4), which returned just three players and one starter from last season, earned its second county title in three years in its third consecutive appearance in the county final and will play Harborfields in the Class A regional final, March 9 at Adelphi. Floral Park finishes 15-6.
"This is a better than winning lacrosse. No one really knows Garden City basketball and everyone looked down on us especially because we graduated so many seniors last year," said Carpentier, a three-sport athlete who was named game MVP. "Almost everyone plays three sports and we're more of an athletic team than a basketball team but we really know how to do it."
Added coach Anthony Sparacia: "My girls know how to win at the end of games."
Garden City never trailed Saturday, but Floral Park stayed close throughout, especially in the fourth quarter where the final four-point margin was the largest of the period.
Floral Park tied the game at 33 with just under five minutes to play on Erica Bowe's three-pointer, but Carpentier answered, driving past Floral Park's Lorraine Hickman (17 points, 18 rebounds) to put Garden City back in front. After Valeri Fox tied it again for the Knights, Reifler hit a deep two off an inbounds pass to give the Trojans the lead for good at 37-35.
In the final minute, Carpentier, Sam Auricchio and McCarraher each hit a free throw to seal it, as McCarraher and Carpentier earned trips to the line with aggressive offensive rebounds.
"We knew we just had to crash the boards and give it all we got," McCarraher said. "We knew if we made that foul shot it'd be a two possession game and would have the win in the game. When I missed the first I was nervous but when I made the second I was so relieved."
Reifler led the Trojans with 11 points, McCarraher had 10 points and nine rebounds and Carpentier had eight points and six rebounds, scoring five points in the fourth quarter.
"I've never led my team in scoring before so to do that in this game is incredible," Reifler said. "I just made sure I was open for the ball and we knew we could do this."