Katie Doherty lifts Sachem East past North Babylon in Class AA title game
No, this wasn't the ballyhooed matchup of three years ago -- Sachem East versus North Babylon, powerhouses headlined by superstars Kristen Doherty and Bria Hartley -- in the Suffolk Class AA final.
The teams have changed greatly since then and a little less hoopla surrounded this meeting at Ward Melville.
But it's hard to ignore this subtle bit of symmetry from Tuesday night's game: Katie Doherty had 24 points and eight assists as the Flaming Arrows beat top-seeded North Babylon, 57-49, to capture their first county title in three years.
Doherty's stat line was identical to her cousin Kristen's in that win over the Bulldogs back then.
"That is too weird," Katie Doherty said, almost in disbelief. "What are the chances of that?"
Umm. . . A little less probable than the likelihood of another Doherty leading No. 2 Sachem East to a title.
"Special kids rise in big moments," Arrows coach Matt Brisson said of his point guard. "[Katie] has made a meteoric rise this season."
Sachem East led from midway through the first quarter and never relinquished it, but the Bulldogs pressured them with a late charge.
Allie Drake's free throws pushed the Flaming Arrows' lead to 40-20 with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter, but North Babylon came back with a 21-7 run, capped when Brittany Hicks' free throw pulled them within 47-41 with 5:20 left in the fourth.
But Emily Carmel (15 points) answered with an 18-foot jumper to break the Bulldogs' momentum with 4:46 left. "We were able to penetrate and create open shots outside," said Carmel, who hit four three-pointers. "When you're getting that many good looks, enough of them will fall."
They did for Doherty, who followed Carmel's basket with a corner three and a pull-up jumper on consecutive possessions, making it 54-41 with 1:57 left.
"It's a great feeling to answer when a team makes a run on you," Doherty said. "We all made plays when we had to and it was a team win, for sure."
As it was back in 2010, when Hartley scored a playoff-record 51 points for North Babylon, but Sachem East eked out a 72-69 win.
Kathleen Everson had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Allie Drake had seven points and 13 rebounds for Sachem East (19-2). The Flaming Arrows will face Southampton or Harborfields in the Suffolk overall title game on Friday.
Everson and "Drake squared" (the nickname for Allie and her twin sister, Sammy) played stellar defense in the post and helped limit North Babylon star Makeda Nicholas to 11 points. The 6-1 forward had recorded a triple-double in each of her last three games.
"Our strategy was to front her and get help on the back side," Everson said of guarding Nicholas. "We did a good job of that and we were able to keep her off the boards a little."
Brianna Jones scored 15 points and Hicks had nine for North Babylon (20-2).
"This is another step, but we still haven't finished our business," Everson said, alluding to Sachem East's "unfinished business" motto, which serves as a reminder of its shortcomings in the previous two postseasons.
Brisson said: "This team is a bunch of girls who play together and breathe for each other. There isn't a Kristen here to lean on, so this [title] is a lot different than in 2010."
Well, except for that little similarity.