Brittany Hicks, Makeda Nicholas lead North Babylon girls in semifinals
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It was one of those "No, no, no!" shots, and even Brittany Hicks, the shooter, admitted she had regrets after releasing it.
With North Babylon down a point in the final seconds of overtime, Hicks spotted up on the left wing, took the pass and took a chance -- hoisting a three-pointer.
"Coach told us if it's open, take it," Hicks said, "but the second it left my hand, I'm thinking I have to hustle back because there's no way it's going in."
Teammate Makeda Nicholas, who had position in the post on the play, said she "was praying" when the shot went up.
Hicks' jumper hit the rim and spun for a moment, but found the net with 21 seconds remaining, lifting North Babylon to a dramatic 47-45 win over Commack Saturday night in the Suffolk Class AA semifinals.
The Cougars had chances on their last possession, but the Bulldogs blocked two shots, the second of which was Nicholas' under the basket as time expired.
That swat gave the 6-1 forward a third consecutive game with a triple-double. Nicholas had 15 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks. Hicks had 17 points, including five three-pointers, to send top-seeded North Babylon (20-1) to the final against Sachem East at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ward Melville.
But before that . . . Nicholas swished a pullup jumper from 8 feet to tie it at 40 with 11 seconds left in regulation.
"I felt a lot of pressure there," she said, "but I just had to take my time, not panic and remember to flick my wrist."
Jalen Powell's three-pointer gave North Babylon a 33-26 lead at the end of the third quarter, but No. 5 Commack was fiesty. Erin Storck (15 points) converted two steals into fast-break layups, igniting the Cougars' 12-0 run in the fourth. Her basket put them up 38-33 with 4:59 left.
The Bulldogs answered, and Hicks hit a high-arching three that banked in to pull them within 40-38, preceding Nicholas' tying shot. Kennethah Harden added six points and 10 rebounds for North Babylon.
Melissa Lobaccaro had nine points for Commack (16-3). Storck's free throws put the Cougars up 45-44 with 33 seconds left in overtime. Then came Hicks' long shot, setting up a rematch of the 2010 county final, which Sachem East won.
Headlining that matchup was Kristen Doherty vs. North Babylon's Bria Hartley in a showdown of Long Island High School legends.
"Getting this opportunity to be back in counties means a lot to me," Hicks, a senior, said. "Back then, I didn't even get off the bench in that game, let alone make an impact."
Now she's a big shot.