Katie Doherty, use one word to explain how you got here.
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Coach Matt Brisson, same question for you.
Kat Everson, your turn.
Sachem East, an inexperienced bunch entering the season, was not expected to repeat as county champion. Yet here they are.
The lone veterans on the roster, Doherty and Everson, powered No. 3 Sachem East to a 55-46 win over top-seeded North Babylon in the Suffolk Class AA championship game Monday night at Farmingdale State.
After North Babylon took a 10-point lead, Everson's layup capped an 18-3 run and gave the Flaming Arrows a 39-34 lead with 7:14 left. Everson's jumper from the left wing opened a 44-38 lead. From there, Doherty drained 9 of 12 free-throw attempts to seal the win.
Doherty finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds and Everson added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"In the beginning of the season, there were some struggles," Doherty said. "The young girls had to find their place. They had a lot to take on and they really did a good job of building those skills, and with that, they stepped up."
Among them were Jordan Pamlanye, a junior who became more physical as the season progressed; Gabby Aspuru, a freshman who improved her shot and ballhandling, and Danielle Cosgrove, an eighth- grader who developed into an inside presence.
"They wanted to make their mark, too," Brisson said. "Katie and Kat are such great kids, the others wanted to rally around them."
It was the fourth time in five years that Sachem East ousted North Babylon (20-2). Makeda Nicholas had 25 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks. Lauren Williams had 12 points and Brianna Jones added nine points and nine rebounds. The trio scored all of North Babylon's points.
Williams grabbed an offensive rebound and made a no-look pass to a cutting Jones, whose layup capped an 8-0 run to open the third and put North Babylon in front 31-21.
Then Sachem East fought back. Everson went coast-to-coast for a layup with 4:40 left in the third, igniting a key run. Doherty later intercepted a pass in the backcourt and drained a pull-up three to pull Sachem East within 34-33 with 1:15 left in the third. Taylor Whiffen's putback with 37 seconds left gave Sachem East its first lead since midway through the first quarter.
Sachem East (15-7) will play either Baldwin or Massapequa for the Long Island championship at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Farmingdale.
"At the beginning of the season, I couldn't picture myself being a county champion," Everson said. "But I knew that if we stayed together and kept fighting, we could pull it off. And here we are."