Lindsay O'Sullivan is a couple years away from going for her license, but on her basketball team, the freshman has nothing but green lights.
"I have full confidence in her," Friends Academy coach Ryan Schneider said. "I gave her permission to shoot whenever, probably from the first day I met her."
With her team bumper-to-bumper with Stony Brook late, O'Sullivan maneuvered through traffic to give the Quakers a three-point cushion en route to their 29-25 win Thursday night at Hofstra.
In a game where the hoop, at times, seemed averse to visitors, O'Sullivan scored 22 points and led Friends Academy to its first Long Island Class C championship.
"Knowing my team is counting on me," she said, "sometimes it's nerve-racking. But for the most part, it's fun. I like knowing they believe in me."
And if the big stage brought any butterflies, O'Sullivan quickly shooed them away.
After Ariana Odom's free throw pulled Stony Brook within a point with 1:57 left, O'Sullivan answered. The forward isolated on the right, drove to her left into the paint and sank an off-balance, 10-foot floater to give Friends a 28-25 lead with 1:01 left.
"Lindsay will take a crazy shot and nobody will think it's going in and it does," teammate Rose Mangiarotti said. "We're not surprised anymore. She does that like five times a game."
Stony Brook missed a free throw with 9.5 seconds left and fouled Madeline O'Brien. The junior, celebrating her 17th birthday, hit a free throw with 0.8 seconds left which was, of course, icing on the cake.
"We really wanted this game, and getting this championship means so much," said O'Brien, who also was a member of the Friends soccer team that beat Stony Brook for the L.I. title in November. "It's exciting because I feel like we truly deserved this."
The Quakers will face Alexander Hamilton of Section I in the Southeast Regional at 1 p.m. Saturday at Adelphi. (And if you thought this was a low-scoring contest, Hamilton won its final, 27-14, on Wednesday.)
Mangiarotti had six points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks for Friends (11-9). With the 5-11 center swatting as many shots, there could have been a "Do Not Enter" sign above the paint. Mangiarotti controlled the post and helped contain Stony Brook's dynamic tandem of 6-footers Keara Vancol (10 points) and Odom (three).
Allie Damianos added six points for the Bears (13-6).
"I was shocked at the height they had," Mangiarotti said, "but I just tried to time the blocks and not foul."
O'Sullivan's layup gave the Quakers a 26-20 lead with 5:40 to go, but Vancol made four free throws to pull the Bears within 26-24 with 4:14 left. Stony Brook had led 17-11 early in the third quarter, but Friends charged back and went ahead 22-19 on a three-point play by O'Sullivan.
"Lindsay was our leading scorer as an eighth-grader, so we knew we had something special," Schneider said. "We just let her go."