For once in a tightly contested, back and forth second half, Alessia Drevnyak could breathe easily.
The East Rockaway center drove for a layup to put her team up by four with 54 seconds left, a large cushion in a second half in which the score was tied five times. It proved to be enough insurance as East Rockaway beat Pierson/Bridgehampton, 40-36, to win the Long Island Class C championship Tuesday night at St. Joseph’s of Patchogue.
The Rocks (11-10) face the winner of Section I and Section VIIII in the Class C regional final Friday at 5 p.m.
“I just knew I had to get the ball and score so we could get ahead and finish this game,” said Drevnyak, who scored 15 points. “It’s crazy. Even though we got a bye, we showed them we can really win this and we’re here to win.”
Brooke DeGiulio cut to the net and scored a layup to give East Rockaway a 37-35 lead with 1:38 to play before Drevnyak scored less than a minute later. DeGiulio also broke a tie at 24 on a putback with under five minutes left in the third.
The Lady Whalers (13-8) went on a 6-0 run midway through the first quarter, and Erica Selyukova’s three-pointer at the buzzer sparked a 4-0 rally to start the second that put them ahead 15-8.
Drevnyak’s presence in the post helped closed the gap with three two-pointers in the second quarter. At 6-1, she also stood out defensively.
“She’s a leader on the court,” East Rockaway coach Karin Leary said. “She does everything on the court. She’s talking to her teammates, telling them what to do, where to go. And as a center that’s not normal, but she’s my leader out there.
“She made big baskets when it counted. She was getting double- and triple-teamed, but she was still going to the hoop.”
Added Leary on the Long Island title: “We haven’t been here in a couple of years. That was our goal, to win this game. We have one more and hopefully a trip to the states.”