Coming off a big win over previously undefeated South Side and one might think the Division girls basketball team was set up for a letdown.
Not these girls.
Led by junior Nora Tracey, who scored the first nine points of the third quarter, Division broke open a close game and went on to a 51-35 win at Roslyn in a Nassau Conference A-II game Saturday before a crowd of 150 on Senior Day in Roslyn.
Tracey, a 6-1 center, finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass. Freshman forward Emily Gillis added 19 points for the Blue Dragons.
“They were denying us our shots and when we got a few good open looks, nothing was falling,” Division coach Steve Kissane said. “Our girls knew this was an important game for seeding. But Roslyn played like a playoff team and gave us all we could handle.”
Roslyn (7-11) jumped to an 11-5 first-quarter lead as senior point guard Samantha Busch dished three assists and hit a long three-pointer to give the Bulldogs the six-point lead.
“Samantha is the heart and soul of our team,” Roslyn coach Noreen Naughton said. “She always gives us the confidence that any win is possible. We’ve seen her grow from a timid freshman to a confident senior, a pure leader.”
Division (14-5) used its size advantage to crash the boards and get second chances in the final 1:54 of the first quarter. The Blue Dragons closed the quarter with the final six points coming from the free-throw line to tie the score at 11.
The Blue Dragons continued their assault on the boards and scored the first 10 points of the second quarter, mostly on second chance putbacks for a 21-11 lead. The 16-0 run between the first and second quarters ended when Busch found guard Emily Cohen for an uncontested layup.
The teams traded baskets throughout the third quarter which ended on a Busch breakaway layup to get the Bulldogs within 33-23. “She’s an All-County player and kept them in the game,” Kissane said. “But I do like the way we responded in the fourth quarter.”
Tracey extended the lead when she scored off a putback and added the free throw for a three-point play and a 36-23 lead. Busch, who led Roslyn with 16 points, four assists and five steals, drilled the second of her four three-pointers to make it 36-26.
But Tracey hit consecutive layups and two free throws around a Cohen free throw to make it 42-27 with 3:10 left. Madison Gillis’ layup gave Division a 44-27 lead but Roslyn wouldn’t go away easy.
Busch drilled consecutive three-pointers to get the Bulldogs within 44-33 with 2:13 remaining.
Roslyn, which finished last year with only four girls on the floor in the final game of the season, played playoff-bound Division toe-to-toe.
“We had some injuries and a small roster last year and this year was totally different,” Busch said. “We measured our success by our commitment to be a team and our work ethic. We’re so close and have an amazing atmosphere created by our coaches. We never quit and it was a great end to the game.”
Division went up 51-33 before Roslyn senior MacKenzie Rich hit a driving layup as time expired, her only basket in two years on the varsity. You would think Roslyn won the way they spilled off the bench and mobbed Rich.
“I’m glad we won,” Kissane said. “But that program is headed in the right direction. There’s some excitement over in Roslyn.”