The buzzer sounded, the crowd roared and finally, Hampton Bays could celebrate its county championship.
The players on the court, still charged with nerves and adrenaline, eagerly rushed to their bench. Not to yell and jump in jubilation, but to check on an ailing teammate.
Trish Liotta had injured her right knee in a collision and had to be helped off the court in the fourth quarter Tuesday night. The Baymen didn't have much time to focus on her then, clinging to a one-point lead.
"But she was our motivation down the stretch," point guard Alexis Fotopoulos said. "Seeing our girl go down like that gave us extra fire."
And the Baymen fired away.
Fotopoulos scored 21 of her 33 points in the second half as top-seeded Hampton Bays beat Mattituck, 58-44, in the Suffolk Class B final. The Baymen captured their first championship since 2008.
After a back-and-forth first 23 minutes, Hannah Reed nailed a right-corner three with 1:25 left in the third to give Hampton Bays a 32-30 lead it didn't relinquish. Fotopoulos scored 14 points in the fourth to stave off Mattituck.
"It meant a lot to me for them to show their concern and run over to me," said Liotta, whose leg was heavily iced after the game. "I don't think it's too bad, but I'll have our trainer look at it more [Wednesday]."
After Liotta's injury with 6:58 remaining, Hampton Bays immediately began a 13-0 barrage, extending to a 47-33 lead. Haley Wood's three-point play made it 37-33 with 6:40 left. Then Mary Kelly Hilton sank a three. Then Fotopoulos converted a three-point play. And so it continued.
"Coach [Pat] McGuniggle always says that if you want to win a championship, you have to work hard and make the plays at critical times," Reed said. "That's what we did."
In addition to the points, Fotopoulos had six rebounds, four assists and four steals for Hampton Bays (17-2). Reed added six points, and Wood, Hilton and Alex Maitland-Ward each scored five.
Hampton Bays will face Pierson in the B/C game at 6 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph's (LI).
"We've all improved so much over the years, so it's nice to finally bring home a championship," said Fotopoulos, a sophomore who has been on the varsity squad since seventh grade. "We've wanted this for a long time, so this win is huge for us."
Third-seeded Mattituck could do little to slow Fotopoulos' drives into the paint in the second half. "She's a special player," McGunnigle said. "She's got the total package and she's a strong, tough kid."
Fotopoulos' jump shot was off Tuesday night, but she used a quick first step to burst off the perimeter and drew several hard fouls inside. She was 13-for-17 from the line in the second half.
Liz Dwyer scored 13 points and Shannon Dwyer 10 for Mattituck (12-7).
"This group has been together for a long time, a lot of us for four years, and we've become really close," Wood said. "That's why we have the chemistry we do; that's why we care for each other so much. So when Trish went down, we knew we would do this for her."