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St. Anthony’s girls basketball team falls in state CHSAA ‘AA’ semifinal

Lauren Hackett leads the Friars with 19 points and rookie coach Hugh Flaherty finishes 25-5.

St. Anthony's Lauren Hackett dribbles up the middle

St. Anthony's Lauren Hackett dribbles up the middle duringthe CHSAA state Class AA girls basketball semifinal against Cardinal O'Hara at St. Raymond's in the Bronxon Friday, March 9, 2018. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Lauren Hackett is the engine that makes everything steam forward for the St. Anthony’s girls basketball team, but a nightmare third quarter was too much to overcome for the senior and her teammates.

Buffalo Cardinal O’Hara was near automatic, overcoming a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat the Friars, 52-48, in a state CHSAA Class AA semifinal at St. Raymond’s Boys High School in the Bronx Friday night.

“She just gives us a heartbeat,” said Hugh Flaherty, who finished 25-5 in his first year as coach. “She demands excellence. She really wants to compete and do the best she can.”

Quick off the dribble with crafty handles and a knack for passing through small windows, Hackett was the pacesetter, even working off the ball to knock down five three-pointers. She had 19 points and four assists.

She picked up her second foul at the end of the first quarter, though, and while St. Anthony’s didn’t wilt, it was clear that the Friars operate best with her on the court. When she re-entered midway through the second quarter, she took over.

She scored eight straight St. Anthony’s points and assisted on Tamia Lawhorne’s layup with a bounce pass down low, turning a 19-18 advantage into a 29-20 lead by halftime.

“Being the only senior on the team, it’s really tough for me,” Hackett said. “I know I need to pick my teammates up and lead them because if I’m dropping points, I know they’re going to follow and have my back.”

After the Friars were outscored 25-6 in the third quarter, Hackett fouled out with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter and sat at the edge of her seat as her teammates attempted a comeback from a 48-40 deficit. The Friars cut it to four points twice — the last coming on Synclair Taylor’s layup with 57.4 seconds remaining — but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Flaherty said Hackett is getting Division I interest, and while she hasn’t decided where she’ll continue her career, she knows exactly what she’s looking for.

“I want it to be just like St. Anthony’s,” she said. “I want it to be home.”

St. Dominic advances to ‘B’ final. Sarah Buonaguro had 25 points to lead St. Dominic (6-21) over Buffalo Nardin Academy, 46-23, in a state CHSAA Class B semifinal at Holy Trinity. St. Dominic plays the St. Saviour-Aquinas winner 3 p.m. Saturday at Fordham University in the state final.

Our Lady of Mercy falls in ‘A’ semifinal. Lauren Hammersley had 20 points, but OLMA (16-12) fell to Buffalo Sacred Heart, 77-63, in a state CHSAA Class A semifinal at Holy Cross.

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