St. Mary's teammates celebrate after their win over Sacred Heart...

St. Mary's teammates celebrate after their win over Sacred Heart in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA girls basketball final at Hofstra's Mack Sports Complex on Thursday. Credit: James Escher

Everything the St. Mary’s girls basketball team did all season was about returning to the final. And not only returning but taking home the championship that slipped away last season.

"We talked about it after every game and during every practice," junior guard Taryn Barbot said. "We said, ‘This is for us to get the [championship[.’"

All the work paid off as top-seeded St. Mary’s defeated No. 3 Sacred Heart, 50-35, in the CHSAA girls basketball ‘AA’ final at Hofstra’s Mack Sports Complex Thursday evening.

St. Mary’s used the loss to Our Lady of Mercy in last season’s final as motivation all season to win its second title in the last three seasons.

"I was crying walking off the court last year," senior guard Alisa Blalock said. "But now we are all happy and this is a moment I’ll never forget."

St. Mary’s (19-3) advances to play in the CHSAA state ‘AA’ semifinals at Holy Trinity High School March 11 at 6 p.m.

But Sacred Heart’s season isn’t over. The Spartans (11-6) play at Our Lady of Mercy (19-5) Monday at 5 p.m. The winner of Monday’s matchup advances to the CHSAA state ‘A’ semifinals at Christ the King March 11.

Sacred Heart played St. Mary’s tough in the first half, trailing only 25-19 entering intermission. But Barbot scored eight of her 18 points in the third quarter as St. Mary’s opened a 42-27 lead after outscoring Sacred Heart, 17-8 in the period.

"I thought I had to be a little more aggressive in the second half, so I did," Barbot said. "I just wanted to get the [championship] and get the [win] for my team."

Cayla Williams added 16 points for St. Mary’s.

"We did a better job in the second half in the high low with Taryn and Cayla," coach Kevin White said. "We scored a couple of times down low, then we got going. We feed off of energy."

But St. Mary’s isn’t content yet. The Gaels were unable to play in the state championships after winning the ‘AA’ title in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They want to carry on that legacy for those players who lost the chance that year.

"I really wanted to get this done in my senior year," said Blalock, who added five points. "This means the world to me."

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