Keri Birmingham scored 18 points and Emma Klein added 19...

Keri Birmingham scored 18 points and Emma Klein added 19 points and 11 rebounds in Nassau A-IV victory over Wantagh on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Keri Birmingham was looking to pass. As the final seconds ticked away in the third quarter, the senior guard scoured the court to try to find someone open. But when she realized the time was about to run out, Birmingham put up the shot herself.

It’s a good thing she did.

Birmingham made a three-pointer as time expired in the third quarter to give Floral Park a four-point lead in its 56-44 victory over host Wantagh in a Nassau Conference A-IV girls basketball game Tuesday. Her face lit up with a huge smile as she seemingly surprised herself with the basket.

“After not seeing anyone open, I saw the clock running down in the corner of my eye and I knew I had to shoot it,” Birmingham said. “It was lucky it went in. To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to go in but when I was watching it in the air and when it sank, it felt great.”

Birmingham had 18 points, including eight points in the first quarter, and Emma Kline added 19 points and 11 rebounds for Floral Park (1-1).

Wantagh nearly erased an 11-point deficit in the third quarter, bringing the score to within one point on three separate occasions in the third. But Birmingham changed the game’s momentum with one shot.

“That was a really big shot,” Kline said. “It took some of the pressure off us and gave us a little breathing room. That was a really big one.”

“I thought that was the biggest play of the game,” coach Mike Spina said. “That let the air out of the balloon a little bit for them there. I thought that deflated them a little bit.”

Sarah Owen added 10 points, six rebounds and three assists, Anna Connolly had three points and six assists and Katherine Klein had six points and seven rebounds in the win.

Casey Kissinger had 14 points, including 11 in the third quarter, and Katherine Killian had 10 points for Wantagh (1-2).

Kline had a pivotal three-point play off a great assist from Owen, who perfectly placed a pass over the top of a defender to Kline at the basket, to give Floral Park a 53-43 lead with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.

“She’s a center being put as one of our guards,” Spina said of Owen. “That pass was a pass that people playing point guard for 10 years would make and she’s just learning the position.”

Wantagh outscored Floral Park 22-12 for the first 7:59 of the third quarter before Birmingham’s game-altering shot.

“We just had to focus and bring each other up on defense,” Kline said. “And then especially when Keri made that shot, we felt a lot better.”

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