There was no sigh of relief until sophomore Lames ElGammal and junior Tiara Place teamed up to pull down one more rebound after a final missed three-point shot by Sachem East’s Katie Doherty.
Only then could Baldwin (18-3 overall) finally exhale and celebrate its second Long Island Class AA girls’ basketball championship in four years, a 50-47 win over the Lady Flaming Arrows at Farmingdale State College last Friday night. Place put the Lady Bruins ahead for good in the final minute, driving to the hoop for a layup with 59 seconds left. Following a block by senior Tyra Harrison on a wild shot by Doherty on the next Sachem East possession, senior Mariah Butler calmly sank a pair of free throws for the final margin of victory.
“Everyone stepped up today,” Baldwin head coach Tom Catapano said of his team, whose defensive stoppers on Doherty, the No. 3 scorer in Sachem East history, were a junior, Taylor Howell, and an eighth-grader, Jenna Annecchiarico. “It’s indicative of the whole season, to be honest.”
Butler scored a game-high 16 points, and while ElGammal had 13, it was her game-high 23 rebounds that paid huge dividends, particularly in the second half. The Lady Bruins fell behind by seven points in the third quarter before ElGammal really went to work. She scored six points and had five boards in the final four minutes of the third quarter, as Baldwin cut the deficit to a single basket. “I was nervous in the first half,” she said. “Going into the second half, I realized being nervous wasn’t helping us win.”
Baldwin advanced to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals against Cicero-North Syracuse Friday at 8 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College. The state title game is Saturday at 8:45 p.m.