It's been a long way back to the top for Massapequa senior Danielle Doherty.
After she suffered an ACL injury last spring, the first day the guard was cleared to play sports was the first day of girls basketball tryouts in mid-November.
On Saturday, she knocked down five three-pointers, scored a game-high 17 points and was named MVP of the Nassau Class AA championship game in top-seeded Massapequa's 52-35 win over No. 6 Uniondale at LIU Post.
"I tore my ACL during lacrosse season last year and I had to wear a brace the first few months of this season, and it wasn't great, but it's gotten better," Doherty said. "I was getting frustrated earlier this season and it feels even better to win this coming back from that injury."
Massapequa (19-0) rebounded from last season's loss to Baldwin in the county final to earn its third Nassau Class AA championship after winning titles in 2005 and 2006.
The Chiefs will play Suffolk Class AA champion Sachem East in a state regional final Friday at Hofstra.
Uniondale finishes 15-5.
"This feels amazing," Massapequa's Morgan Roessler said. "I've been on varsity for four years and last year we didn't do too well in this game, so we had to come in and redeem ourselves. And Danielle was amazing. She hit all her shots. This is the best she's been shooting all year, and it's great for her."
Coming off playoff victories of 23 and 32 points, Doherty and Lauren Van Buren helped the Chiefs take a double-digit lead in the first four minutes.
The Chiefs began the game on a 9-0 run, capped by the first of Doherty's three first-half three-pointers. With Van Buren scoring inside, the Chiefs took an 18-8 lead after the first quarter.
"We wanted to come out on fire and show them that we were going to run the game and be in control the whole time," Van Buren said. "We know we always have to come out strong, no matter if it's the first game of the season or the county championship."
Van Buren and Doherty continued their hot shooting in the second quarter. Van Buren was fouled on a putback that she converted into a three-point play to increase the Chiefs' lead to 23-12 with 3:09 left in the half. That was followed by a three-pointer by Doherty, a mid-range jumper by Van Buren and Doherty's third three-pointer of the game for an 11-0 run to close the quarter and make it 31-12 at the half.
"My entire team was setting me up and it's great to shoot that well and it helped us to victory," Doherty said. "Once I knocked down the first two, I started to feel it and just kept it going."
Massapequa led 40-22 after three and by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter.
Van Buren finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, Melanie Hingher had nine points and six rebounds, and Morgan Roessler had eight points and seven rebounds.
"It feels great," coach Shari Roessler said. "I'm so proud of this whole team."