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Sachem East passes a tough test

Sachem East's girls basketball team holds up their

Sachem East's girls basketball team holds up their Class AA state championship trophy after beating Shenendehowa in the final. (Mar. 20, 2010) Photo Credit: Pat Orr Photography

There haven't been too many pressure spots for the Sachem East girls basketball team this season. But when the Flaming Arrows have faced a tough situation in a tight game, they've responded every time.

Their biggest postseason deficit came Saturday night in the state Class AA championship game against Shenendehowa in Troy. Sachem East trailed 28-18 at halftime of what became a 50-44 victory.

"We've been down before," said Boston College-bound Kristen Doherty, whose team has earned its 22 victories by an average of 21.8 points. "We're very good with staying relaxed. We compose ourselves really well. That's really a key factor to our game."

Said Kelsey Ferguson: "It was a larger deficit than we're used to. We all pulled together and realized there's a whole other half to be played. We had a nice lead in the beginning and they came back, so there was no reason why we couldn't do the same.''

Sachem East (22-3) opened the second half with a 13-2 run to take the lead. It changed hands several times before the Flaming Arrows went ahead for good with 6:13 left on Doherty's three-pointer.

Sachem East, which will play the Bergtraum-Christ the King winner in the Federation final Sunday, blew a nine-point lead in the third quarter against Mount Vernon in the semifinals and trailed 44-42 with 5:28 left. It ended the game with a 15-4 run for a 57-48 win.

In the Suffolk championship against North Babylon, the Flaming Arrows blew two double-digit leads and trailed by one with 1:10 left before winning, 72-69.

Kristen Doherty had 22 points, eight rebounds, six steals and three assists Saturday night and her sophomore sister, Meagan, had 18 points - shooting 7-for-14 from the field, including four three-pointers - and four steals. Meagan Doherty missed most of December with a partially torn left MCL that has plagued her all season.

"This has been a very hard season," she said. "I was always in pain. I lied to [coach Matt] Brisson all the time. I told him I was fine. I fought through it, and look where it got us.

"I did this for my sister. I wanted to win it for her more than anything. I didn't want to go home crying, and this year we're not. I'm glad she can leave Sachem with a great legacy."

Kristen Doherty has been the linchpin for the team, with Meagan Doherty adding another scoring threat. Caitlin Hopkins is the force inside and Stephanie Burrow emerged with some big baskets in the postseason in addition to her rebounding and defense. Ferguson doesn't score much, but her defense, hustle and clutch plays have been key for the Flaming Arrows.

"They step up in big spots," Kristen Doherty said. "Some of these players aren't basketball players. The way they come out once it's basketball season and step up is amazing. It means so much to me that they care about this program."

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