Kate Sweet #13 of Westhampton, left, and teammates celebrate after...

Kate Sweet #13 of Westhampton, left, and teammates celebrate after their 38-35 win over West Babylon in the Suffolk Class AA girls basketball semifinals at Walt Whitman High School on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Credit: James Escher

Leading by three with 27.5 seconds remaining, the Westhampton girls basketball team just needed a clean finish against West Babylon to secure a spot in the Suffolk Class AA championship game.

Guard Kate Sweet got the steal on the ensuing West Babylon in-bounds play and was fouled, hitting one free throw to extend the Hurricanes’ lead to four with 23.3 seconds left. Two West Babylon free throws cut Westhampton’s lead to two with 10.9 seconds left. Guard Shannon Sweet was fouled after and hit one of two free throws to bring Westhampton’s lead back to three with 9.7 seconds left.

The second-seeded Hurricanes got one final stop – a putback layup at the buzzer cut the final score to one – to close out a 38-37 win over No. 3 West Babylon in the semifinals Monday at Whitman High School.

“Those types of games you want to be in at this time of the season,” Westhampton coach Katie Peters said.

Guard Jasmine Taylor led Westhampton (20-2) with 10 points. Guard Sandra Clarke and Kate Sweet each added nine points.

“That wasn’t our best, cleanest of a game,” Kate Sweet said. “It was really messy, but we just stuck through it and put all of our effort out on the court.”

Westhampton will face No. 5 Bellport, which defeated No. 1 Half Hollow Hills East, 54-43, in the county championship at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Suffolk County Community College in Selden.

Jade Dockery had 15 points for West Babylon, which finished the season 16-6.

Clarke, who averaged a team-high 14.3 points and had two triple-doubles heading into Monday’s game, had to sit for most of the second half due to foul trouble. She fouled out with 2:31 remaining with Westhampton holding a 36-30 lead.

“She’s a phenomenal player,” Peters said. “Having her sidelined due to foul trouble and ultimately fouling out is definitely an obstacle for us to overcome, but I think our kids pulled together for each other and for her.”

The lead changed 10 times in the third quarter. West Babylon guard Jaelynn Burgess hit a three-pointer from the corner with seven seconds left in the third to tie the game at 30 before the fourth.

Westhampton grabbed a 32-30 lead 2:51 into the fourth quarter, which it never relinquished. The Hurricanes look for their first county title since claiming the 2020 Class A crown.

“They’re really just a special group of girls,” Peters said. “They’re kind. They’re smart. They care about each other. They love each other. You couldn’t ask for any more as a coach.”

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