Every time Sachem East was hit with a potential knockout blow from North Babylon’s Bria Hartley, someone had an answer. Hartley had a Suffolk championship game record and a career-high 51 points, but Sachem East got a balanced attack to stave off a phenomenal performance from the UConn-bound Hartley.
Boston College-bound Kristen Doherty had 24 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, Caitlin Hopkins had 20 points and 12 rebounds and Kelsey Ferguson added 11 points and five steals for No. 2 Sachem East in a 72-69 win over top-seeded North Babylon in the Suffolk Class AA championship game last night before a crowd of 2,300 at Farmingdale State.
It was the third consecutive trip to the championship game for Sachem East and its first win in that span. Sachem East (18-3) will play Center Moriches at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Farmingdale State for the Suffolk overall championship and then play Baldwin for the Long Island Class AA championship at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Farmingdale State.
“It feels better than I expected,” Doherty said. “Bria played a phenomenal game. My team really stepped up.”
Said Ferguson: “We just had to keep our composure. It was a huge team effort.”
The game was billed as Doherty against Hartley; both were selected to be one of the 20 players for the Nike WBCA All-Star Game. But Doherty had more help, although Hartley did all she could to carry her team to victory. She surpassed her previous high of 43 points, which she did Monday in the semifinals. She finished with 1,978 career points.
Hartley hit a three-pointer with 1:10 left in the game to give North Babylon (18-3) a 68-67 lead. Sachem East answered as Stephanie Burrow scored off a pass from Hopkins to give the Flaming Arrows a 69-68 lead with 52 seconds left.
Hartley hit 1 of 2 shots from the foul line with 47 seconds left to tie the score at 69. Doherty hit two free throws with 45 seconds left to give the Flaming Arrows a 71-69 lead. Hartley had the ball in her hands when the shot clock expired with 14 seconds left. Burrow went 1-for-2 from the foul line with nine seconds left to make it 72-69.
Sachem East led by 14 at 26-12 midway through the second quarter on a basket by Hopkins. But North Babylon closed the half on an 18-5 run to pull within 31-30. Hartley scored 14 points in the spurt and had 16 points in the quarter.
Sachem East went on an 11-2 run to take a 43-34 lead with 4:11 left in the third quarter. Sachem East led 51-41 going into the fourth quarter, but Hartley had 17 points in the final quarter.
“It’s a magnificent performance by Bria,” North Babylon coach Mike Petre said. “I feel bad for her. Her teammates didn’t help her out enough.”
It was the opposite for Sachem East. “The support on my team has been great,” Doherty said. “If they play good defense on me, I trust that my teammate will hit a big shot. We just had to make sure when Hartley made a basket that we did.”
Said Hopkins: “It took three years. It was an amazing game and it feels great to be one of the best teams on Long Island.”