St. Anthony's Emma Toner looks to the basket during a...

St. Anthony's Emma Toner looks to the basket during a CHSAA girls basketball semifinal playoff game against Our Lady of Mercy at SUNY Farmingdale on Sunday, February 26, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Bounce, bounce, spin the ball, bounce, shoot.

It’s about as simple as a free-throw approach can be. And it proved to be as effective as any as Emma Toner hit 9 of 10 foul shots in the fourth quarter to help No. 3 St. Anthony’s defeat No. 2 Our Lady of Mercy, 56-48, in a girls basketball CHSAA semifinal at Farmingdale State Sunday afternoon.

“It was nerve-wracking a little bit but everybody had our backs so I knew we were going to come out with the win,” Toner said. “I just tried to calm myself down and said, ‘You know what, you have to make these.’”

Toner’s efficient free-throw shooting helped send St. Anthony’s to meet No. 1 St. Mary’s (22-4) in the CHSAA ‘AA’ final at Hofstra Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.

Our Lady Of Mercy (19-5) plays Sacred Heart (14-7) in a qualifying game for the state CHSAA ‘A’ tournament at Hofstra Tuesday at 4 p.m. The winner of that contest plays the loser of St. Anthony’s/St. Mary’s to clinch a spot in the state tournament.

Toner said she and her teammates constantly focus on high-pressure free throws during practice. That helped her remain composed in the closing minutes of the semifinals with coach Hugh Flaherty simply stating, “That’s Emma.”

“We just knew this was all or nothing,” Toner said. “We were all working together, we brought so much energy and we just knew we needed to win this game.”

St. Anthony’s (19-6) lost to Our Lady of Mercy twice during the season but the Friars didn’t let that deter them.

“The last time we lost to them was by one in overtime,” said Iyana Morel, who scored 16 points. “It hurt, so we came back stronger. We came out strong and we can beat anyone when we come out strong.”

Toner had 15 points and Shani Clark added 13 points as the Friars once again utilized a balanced scoring effort Sunday.

“We share,” Flaherty said. “I always tell them since Day One. I don’t run a play for anybody, I run it for everybody and it kind of seems to work.”

“We just work together so well,” Toner said. “We encourage each other to do well and it’s not just one player each game doing well. It’s every player in the game.”

Meghan Andersen had 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for Our Lady of Mercy.

The Friars led 39-27 with 2:34 left in the third quarter following a three-pointer by Kate Licciardi before Our Lady of Mercy closed the quarter on a 7-0 run. 

St. Anthony’s later took a 50-38 lead with 3:20 left in the fourth quarter following a three-pointer by Toner but Our Lady of Mercy went on another 7-0 run to trim the Friars' lead to 50-45 with 1:13 left. But Toner made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 53 seconds to preserve the victory.

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