Katie Doherty, Kathleen Everson lead Sachem East to LI Class AA title
That was the battle cry all season for Sachem East. And it was said constantly: in the pregame cheer; breaking the huddle after timeouts; heck, to anyone who even asked them about the season.
It was the Flaming Arrows' reminder to themselves of postseasons unfulfilled -- and the bitterness that followed -- since their state championship run three years ago.
Well, now they're packing for a business trip.
"We're just about finished now," Everson said. "We're a step closer. Now we just have to seal the deal in states."
Sachem East (21-2) will face Ossining or Monroe-Woodbury in the state semifinals at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Hudson Valley CC in Troy.
Rachel Sieber's three-pointer pulled the Chiefs within 53-50 with 44 seconds remaining, and they fouled to stop the clock. Sachem East missed the free throw but recovered the loose ball, and Sammy Drake's free throws with 15.2 seconds left made it 55-50.
"It's amazing," Doherty said. "We've worked hard for a long time . . . This was a good performance against a really good team. We had to keep going, even when we were playing well, and just keep pushing."
In other words, they continued to conduct business.
Sachem East's strong defense -- which entered allowing opponents only 35 points per game -- held high-powered Massapequa to a 23-16 first half.
The Chiefs have a wealth of depth and their roster features five girls over 5-10. The Flaming Arrows offset the size disparity with outside shooting and Everson's savvy -- sharp cuts to the basket and quick post moves -- down low.
"It was a tough, physical matchup because they're a big team," Everson said, "but we pulled through like we have all year."
Sammy Drake added 10 points and her twin sister Allie Drake had six for Sachem East.
Lauren Van Buren scored 19 points, and Meghan McCabe and Melanie Hingher each had six for Massapequa (18-1).
Each time it seemed the Chiefs were poised for a run, the Flaming Arrows snuffed it out.
Massapequa cut its deficit to 25-20 early in the third quarter, but Sachem East answered with layups by Everson and Sammy Drake. Drake's was a nifty scoop off a 360 pirouette.
Hingher's putback pulled Massapequa within 51-47 with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter, but Everson hit a 10-foot jumper on the Flaming Arrows' next possession.
"This has been our dream," Everson said. "We've known each other since we were little kids, and we wanted this. Now we're one step closer."
They're just minding their business.