ALBANY -- Let's Boogie!
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That was pretty much the message delivered by Long Island Lutheran's precocious sophomore point guard Lauren "Boogie" Brozoski during the fourth quarter of Friday morning's state Federation Class A semifinal game against Nazareth at the Times Union Center.
The Lady Crusaders had squandered all of a 13-point first-half lead and trailed by six when Brozoski took charge during a timeout. "Boogie said, 'Get me the freakin' ball!' At that point, I didn't say anything," Lutheran coach Rich Slater recalled.
"I'm competitive. I saw my team getting down. Their faces dropped," Brozoski said. "I took over. That's what a point guard does."
So Brozoski hit a three right out of the timeout and nailed another from downtown two-and-a-half minutes later to tie the score. She wound up scoring 10 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Lady Crusaders closed the game on a 14-0 run to pull out a 44-36 victory that moves them into this afternoon's championship game at 3:15 against Troy.
"I want the ball in my hands," said Brozoski, who played with a clear face mask to protect a broken nose suffered in practice five weeks ago. "But I have complete confidence in my teammates. If that shot didn't go in, I know we would have gotten the rebound. They've always got my back."
After Brozoski tied it at 36, Lutheran (20-4) regained the lead for good on a fast-break layup by freshman guard Kaela Hilaire off a feed from Brozoski, who had three assists, five steals and eight rebounds while playing all 32 minutes. The mask, apparently, was no hindrance. "It gets a little hot and sweaty inside, but you get used to it," Brozoski said.
It got a little sweaty when Taylor Byrne stepped to the foul line with 50.7 seconds left and her team leading 38-36. Even one miss would make it a one-possession game. But Byrne (nine points, five rebounds) sank both and Nazareth (17-11) was finished. Brozoski added four more free throws in the final 30 seconds.
"I love those foul shots," Byrne said. "You have to love that situation. Being on the foul line, knowing you have to hit those shots. I was smiling when they called the foul."
All the Lady Crusaders were smiling afterward, despite a sloppy game in which Lutheran committed 19 turnovers and shot just 28 percent from the field. Nazareth, who got 11 points from Jen Fay, formerly of Lynbrook, committed 21 turnovers and shot 31 percent.
Credit Lutheran's defense for some of that, as it held Nazareth scoreless for the final 6:09.
"We struggled mightily on offense. It was an ugly-looking game," Slater said. "But I'll take the ugly ones. At the end, we had the best player on the floor. We have her. They don't."