Lady Bruins are L.I. champs!

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After limiting Doherty, one of the most prolific scorers in Suffolk County, to four points in the opening half, Catapano and the Lady Bruins decided they weren’t going to allow her to get into any type of comfort zone. The straight man-to-man defense they played over the first two quarters became a triangle-and-2 with Annecchiarico and Howell continuing to play tight, but the rest of the defense forcing Doherty to think as much as react. Having averaged 24.5 points in her previous five playoff games and 21.9 during the regular season, Doherty continued to struggle, and managed only one jumper in the final two quarters.

“We bounced back and had a phenomenal second half,” Catapano said, noting that his team seemed to wear down Sachem East and kick into high gear down the stretch, and that Annecchiarico played well above her eighth-grade status on defense. “That’s exactly the way she was since the first time I met her,” Catapano added. “She has that ‘it’ factor and doesn’t back down from anyone.”

As much as ElGammal helped power the Lady Bruins in the second half with her bullish moves in the paint — she scored eight of her 13 points and had 13 of her 23 rebounds after halftime — it was Butler, a senior captain, who helped steady the ship in the first half as Sachem East threatened to pull away.

During one four-minute spurt late in the second quarter, the Lady Flaming Arrows went on a 10-3 run to take their biggest lead of the game, 27-19. Butler closed the half by scoring Baldwin’s last seven points, including a pair of jumpers. She beat the buzzer on the final basket, corralling an offensive rebound and going right back up with the shot to trim the deficit to just four.

Baldwin’s balanced offensive effort, which didn’t include a single three-point basket, did feature a large number of layups, as Harrison and Place continuously looked to drive to the hoop from the opening tap. Harrison had eight points and Place chipped in with seven. The Lady Bruins also turned the aggressiveness into free throws, scoring 12 of their 50 points from the line.

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