Something didn't seem right as the North Babylon team was warming up 20 minutes before tip-off and Bria Hartley wasn't on the floor. Then I spotted her sitting on the bench. She eventually joined the team on the floor and it turned out she was very ill since early Monday,
Don't tell that to Smithtown West. Hartley was phenomenal with a career-high 43 points on 16-for-29 shooting from the field in a 69-37 win in the Suffolk Class AA semifinals at Farmingdale State. She had 10 steals and hit five three-pointers.
Hartley felt ill from something she ate and was up at 4 a.m. vomiting and at 7 a.m. she told her mother she felt very sick. In order to play, she had to attend at least four periods of class. She did so, and then took Pepto-Bismol trying to get ready for the game.
Hartley put on some sick moves that left defenders sprawling to the floor. She scored 21 points in the first quarter on 8-for-11 from the field, including three three-pointers. She had 28 at the half on 11-for-16 shooting and 34 after three quarters.
"All day she was throwing up at school," North Babylon coach Mike Petre said. "She's been clutch her whole career. It's easy to see the point, but the nuances of the game is what makes her so special."
Hartley couldn't even stand to do interviews after the game.
"I just wanted to go out and fight through it," she said. "I didn't want to be the reason why we lost."
Hartley said she wanted to shoot more from the outside to prevent her from getting contact down low that might have made her feel more sick.
Hartley had 17 points in the first 6:10 of the game as North Babylon led 23-7. Hartley showed why she will attend UConn, is a McDonald's All-American, invited to play in the WBCA All-Star game and why she is one of five finalists for the Naismith Award.
Hartley has 1,927 career points.
Smithtown West's Shneeka Center had 22 points and 20 rebounds and finished her career with 2,206 points. Sara English had seven points and six rebounds.
"Their strength is our weakness, but they had to get it past our strength, which is pressure," Petre said.
Smithtown West had a tough time early falling behind 20-2. The Bulls cut it to 38-26 at halftime before the Bulldogs opened the second half with a 13-0 run.
Eighth-grader Charise Wilson also had a big game with 15 points. She hit three three-pointers for North Babylon.
Now, comes the game everyone was anticipating before the season. North Babylon will play No. 2 Sachem East for the championship Thursday 7:30 p.m. at Farmingdale State. It's Hartley against Sachem East star Kristen Doherty, who will attend Boston College. Doherty was also one of 20 players nationally to be selected to the WBCA All-Star game.
The teams met in December, but Doherty and her sister Meagan Doherty were both out with injuries and North Babylon won. North Babylon is going for its third championship in four seasons, while Sachem East will make its third consecutive trip to the final. The Flaming Arrows have lost the last two years.
For more on the North Babylon-Smithtown West game, click the link. There is also video.
Who will win the North Babylon-Sachem East game?