Naabea Assibey-Bonsu had the demeanor of a star who had been in a game of this magnitude before.
However, she and her Central Islip teammates were experiencing the bright lights of the Suffolk Class AA girls basketball championship game for the first time, while their Commack counterparts were making their third consecutive appearance in the title game.
The nerves were evident early, as top-seeded Commack built a 15-point lead in the second quarter Thursday. But the third-seeded Musketeers stormed back in the second half behind 22 of Assibey-Bonsu’s 26 points and won the county title with a 60-56 victory.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Assibey-Bonsu, who picked up her fourth foul with 4:54 to play but never left the floor. “Once that buzzer rang, I couldn’t stop crying. We finally did it. When you’re a kid, you dream about moments like this.”
Assibey-Bonsu, whom coach Paul Venturi called “the glue to our team,” made play after play in the fourth quarter — the most important with 1:35 remaining and the Musketeers trailing by one.
She brought the ball upcourt, drove hard to the right and missed a layup in traffic. But Assibey-Bonsu, who stands 5-5, skied for the rebound among a crowd of taller players and converted the putback to give her team a 55-54 advantage.
“She’s so composed, and she’s a special player,” Venturi said.
Commack’s Gabby Becerra (10 points) had given the Cougars a 54-53 lead on a jumper with 1:58 to play after a three-pointer from the top of the arc from Assibey-Bonsu.
Chanel Taylor had 18 points and seven assists and was integral in finishing the team’s comeback from a 27-12 deficit with 2:05 left in the first half.
After Assibey-Bonsu was met by two defenders near the top of the arc, Taylor found herself open in the left corner. Assibey-Bonsu made an athletic pass above the defense and Taylor converted the open look, tying it at 48 with 4:19 remaining.
Taylor was held to four points in the first half and attributed the team’s poor start to inexperience. “We were scared,” she said. “I’m not going to lie. We were very nervous.”
Venturi held his team in the locker room until just over a minute before the start of the second half in an attempt to help his team regroup after Jillian Spagnuola (16 points) and the Cougars played like the more composed team.
Assibey-Bonsu also had words for her teammates during the break.
“I told them, ‘We have to go out there and take what’s ours,’ ” she said. “We knew that this was ours, and we just had to go out there and take it. It was a matter of doing.”
Anyha Jenkins, who could be seen mouthing “we won” in disbelief after the buzzer, took the message to heart. She finished with 16 points, eight in each half.
“It’s been so many years of us losing, and we finally made it,” she said. “We’re here.”
The bright lights won’t faze them next time around.