Carle Place’s Alexa Frein was so nervous before Tuesday evening’s Long Island Class B girls basketball title game, she told her coach she was “scared.”
After the game, Frein didn’t immediately know what to say to reporters.
But in between those two occurrences, Frein was just fine. The Frogs’ lone senior scored seven points — all in the second half — and added six rebounds, four assists and three steals as Carle Place defeated Mattituck, 45-26, in the Long Island Class B championship / Southeast Regional semifinal at Half Hollow Hills West.
Carle Place, which had its previous two seasons ended by Mattituck in the same round, faces Irvington at Pace on Saturday in the Southeast Regional final. The Frogs (17-6) held Mattituck (19-4) without a point for the final 9:03, and scored the game’s final 20 points.
“Coach [Michael Bello] kept saying there’s no tomorrow,” Frein (pronounced Fr-EEN) said. “This could be the last game of basketball that I’d play for Carle Place.”
One of Frein’s teammates knew the latter wasn’t going to be the case on Tuesday.
“When we walked in here, I knew they weren’t going to beat us for a third straight time,” said 6-foot junior Abby Selhorn, who had a game-high 13 points and 10 rebounds. “She’s a senior, and we wanted to do this for her.”
Frein just beat the shot clock with a lefty bank shot to open the fourth quarter and gave Carle Place a 34-26 lead. After Giana McKeough (10 points, six rebounds, three steals) made one of two free throws, Frein set up freshman forward Erin Leary, who scored and the Frogs had their largest lead of the game at 37-26 with 4:14 to play. Leary ended with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.
The Frogs continued to work their beautiful half-court sets, and late in the game, Selhorn noticed something peculiar.
“I looked up [at the scoreboard],” Selhorn said, “and thought, ‘They hadn’t scored in awhile.’ ”
She was right. Liz Dwyer (four points, seven rebounds, seven blocks) made two free throws with 2:03 left in the third quarter for Mattituck (19-4). Those were the Tuckers’ final points. The Frogs, who closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run, recalled how Dwyer had torched them for 26 points in last season’s one-point loss in the L.I. final.
Bello noted McKeough for her defensive efforts on Dwyer. While Bello talked about many of his players after the win, he had special praise for his only senior.
“She’s been whatever we’ve needed, when we’ve needed it,” Bello said about Frein. “She has the best basketball IQ on the team. She just plays hard. She’s effective and she does the little things on defense like cause travels, get steals — whatever it takes — she does.”