TROY, N.Y. - Before Kristen Doherty played in what could have been the final game of her long, storied high school career, she had to get through a really long day.
Sachem East defeated Shenendehowa, 50-44, in last night's state Class AA girls basketball championship game at Hudson Valley CC a day after the Flaming Arrows beat Mount Vernon in the semifinals.
"We were all together until the early hours last night," Doherty said. "We were having fun, trying to get our mind off the game. We didn't want to psych ourselves out or anything."
Then the team had a morning practice, went out to eat and visited a local arcade where they shot more basketballs, of course.
"This weekend was a lot of fun," Doherty said. "We're not gonna have another experience to do something like this together."
Either way, last night wasn't going to be Doherty's final basketball game. Next season she'll play for Boston College. But she was determined to make sure it wasn't her final game with her high school teammates.
"The fact that I would never play with these girls again means everything," Doherty said. "I've been playing with my sister and Caitlin Hopkins and all these girls basically since I was in second and third grade. We really don't want it to end."
Doherty, who scored 22 points and was named MVP of the tournament last night, has left an undeniable mark on Sachem East.
When asked what she's meant to the program, Sachem East coach Matt Brisson had to laugh.
"What does it mean to win the lottery?" he said. "Just watching her blossom is like investing in Apple when it was two cents a share. It's unbelievable. It's surrealistic."
Brisson knows about stars. He was an assistant at Sachem (then one school) when Nicole Kaczmarski earned tournament MVP honors in leading the Flaming Arrows to the state Class A championship in 1995 - as an eighth-grader. She wound up the No. 2 scorer in Long Island girls basketball history.
"I think I might be the only guy who had the same seat 25 inches over for both games," Brisson said. "Nicole Kaczmarski was an incredible offensive force. She could put up 15 points in a heartbeat. Kristen is not just a scoring machine. You see what she's done with the other four, five, six players on the team. She's the consummate team player."
Doherty won't pass Kaczmarski, of course. She entered last night's game eighth all-time with 2,226 career points.
But as Brisson said: "I really think that's like apples and oranges. They're both fabulous players. Kristen doesn't take a backseat to anyone. I'm happy as hell I have her."