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Springer finally has title Brandeis coach gets first crown in 31 years thanks to big effort from MVP Blizzard in the second half

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.



New York Sports