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Hartley leads N. Babylon over Smithtown West

North Babylon's Bria Hartley (14) protects the ball

North Babylon's Bria Hartley (14) protects the ball from Smithtown West's Savannah Miller (22) in the Suffolk Class AA semifinals. Photo Credit: Photo by John Dunn

Bria Hartley crossed over a Smithtown West defender, stepped back and buried a three-pointer at the top of the key. She then did a shake-and-bake move and nailed a jumper as the defender fell, sprawling backward to the floor.

Hartley then drove to the lane and scooped a shot off the backboard as she went by 6-5 Sara English. This was all in the first quarter as Hartley even made the Smithtown West fans gasp. Oh yeah, Hartley was ill all morning and just made it through the required four periods of school to play. You hardly could tell.

The UConn-bound senior point guard scored a career-high 43 points and had 10 steals for top-seeded North Babylon in a 69-37 win over No. 4 Smithtown West on Monday night in a Suffolk Class AA semifinal at Farmingdale State. Hartley, a McDonald's All-American, shot 16-for-29 from the field, including five three-pointers. Eighth-grader Charise Wilson added 15 points.

North Babylon (18-2) will play Sachem East in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Farmingdale State.

"I just wanted to come out and fight through it," Hartley said. "I didn't want to be the reason why we lost."

Hartley said she wanted to come out and take shots from the perimeter to avoid contact. Hartley shot 11-for-16 from the field in the first half and scored 28 points. She scored 21 first-quarter points in which she was 8-for-11 from the field.

"I was telling her that great players usually have their best games when they're sick," North Babylon coach Mike Petre said. "I tried to emphasize the great game part."

North Babylon opened with a 20-2 run and led 27-9 after the first quarter, but Smithtown West cut it to 38-26 at the half. Shneeka Center had 11 points in the second quarter for Smithtown West.

North Babylon put the game away early in the third quarter. The Bulldogs opened with a 13-0 run. Wilson scored five points and Hartley had four during the spurt to give the Bulldogs a 51-26 lead.

The lead grew to 58-33 after three quarters as Smithtown West had just one field goal in the third quarter and was outscored 20-7.

Center had 22 points and 20 rebounds to lead Smithtown West (16-5). Center finished her career with 2,202 points.

"You could play great defense," Center said of defending Hartley, "but great players will still hit shots."

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