Vera Springer can recall the shot with three seconds left
in 1973 that denied her team a championship. It was a separate title for all
the new PSAL teams that had joined the league that season.
She remembers the names of all five starters on her 1985 squad that lost to
August Martin in the 'A' championship game.
She also will forget nothing that happened Friday, either.
When No. 9 Brandeis defeated 10th-seeded Martin Van Buren, 55-46, in the
PSAL 'B' division championship at St. Francis College, it was Springer's first
title in her 31 years of coaching the Bulldogs.
The pro-Brandeis crowd began chanting her name in the first quarter, and
when the final buzzer went off, her players rushed to the bench and to hoist
their petite, smiling coach into the air after the final buzzer went off.
"This was really the main event," she said. Her 1985 finals appearance
"was easier to go into because I knew I was going to get blown out. There was a
lot of pressure on me [Friday night] because this was a game we could win."
Senior forward Nicole Matthews, who finished with 19 points and 14
rebounds, said, "We're so happy for her. She really deserved it. We'd have felt
like we let her down if she didn't get it."
The Bulldogs (25-3) never trailed in the game, with Matthews scoring six
points during a 14-0 run in the first seven minutes of the game.
In several of its last victories, it was Van Buren, which had built
double-digit leads on its opponents. Friday, it didn't get its first basket
until a three-pointer by freshman Samantha Johnson (eight points) with 52
seconds left in the first period. That trey sparked an 11-5 run for the Vee
Bees (26-7), who weren't accustomed to playing from behind, according to their
coach Michael McClain. "We're so used to trying to protect the lead at the
end," McClain said. "We were just too emotional. We couldn't settle down."
Jennaer Brown (five assists, five steals) set up Olivia Desouza (10 points)
for a three-pointer that cut Brandeis' lead to 10 by halftime.
Van Buren got within five points after a trio of foul shots by Delise
Johnson (game-high 20 points) and a layup by Theresa George to open up the
second half, but it was the closest the Vee Bees would get.
Tiara Blizzard, named MVP, managed to get through the Vee Bees defense and
attack the basket at the start of the fourth quarter, scoring eight straight
points to put her team up 49-34. Blizzard got called for a charge with 1:17
remaining and left the game with five fouls, but finished with 19 points, 5
steals and 5 assists for the Bulldogs.
"I was mad in the first half," said Blizzard, a junior. "I felt like I
wasn't doing much to help the team. I had to start taking over."
McClain said it was Blizzard who kept his team from making its last push
successful. "[She] was my big concern," he said. "Tiara just gave it her all.
It was her game tonight. It was their time."
Pointing to his bench at a number of young players,McClain added, "Maybe
we'll be back."
Springer, after waiting 31 years for her first title, now gets a shot at
the Federation Class B title in Glens Falls March 27.
VAN BUREN 46