Sacred Heart center Annie Kiernan puts back the rebound for...

Sacred Heart center Annie Kiernan puts back the rebound for two points against Our Lady of Mercy, Sunday, February 27, 2022, in the CHSAA Class A semifinals in Patchogue. Credit: George A Faella

Sacred Heart’s season hung in the balance. Enter Kimberly Hopkins.

The guard, using a screen from Annie Kiernan, dashed into the lane and connected on a layup with about 30 seconds left to tie the score and help force overtime.

"She made a nice play, got around, beat the defender and got into the lane," Sacred Heart coach Robert Speck said of Hopkins, who had eight points. "That’s what Kim does. She gets into the lane. She’s our floor general."

It was Kiernan who took over in overtime, though. She converted all six of her attempts from the foul line to lead No. 3 Sacred Heart over No. 2 Our Lady Of Mercy, 54-46, in a CHSAA girls basketball semifinal on Sunday at St. Joseph’s College.

Kiernan and Colleen McGovern finished with 15 points apiece for Sacred Heart, which advances to the final against top-seeded St. Mary’s Thursday night at Hofstra.

This was the third meeting between the teams this season. Our Lady of Mercy won the first two, by 18 and 10 points, respectively. But Sunday’s contest was much closer.

"We knew going into this game that if we stick to our game, we can hang with them," said Bridget Thieke, who scored all 14 of her points in the second half.

Added Kiernan, "We knew this game was going to be really tough for them too, so we knew that if we played to our strengths and played the defense we needed to play, we would win."

Samantha Shea led Our Lady of Mercy with 15 points.

From the outset, Sacred Heart was the more physical team as it dominated the boards, even gaining offensive rebounds on three straight possessions at one point. But Our Lady of Mercy didn’t back down, keeping it close for the entire game. Shea had a couple of sensational passes to Meghan Anderson (eight points) and Brooke Vetter (eight points) on cut-to-the-basket layups in the third quarter. Both teams traded baskets before Hopkins stepped up to force overtime.

Now, it’s on to the final against No. 1 St. Mary’s.

"Hopefully we can slow the game down a little bit against them and take care of the basketball," Speck said. "If we can do that, we’ll hope for a good outcome against them."

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