Girls’ Basketball: Queens of LI for 3rd Straight Year

Jess Winston, Brannon Burke and Danielle Pappas celebrate another LI Title

The girls’ basketball team secured their third consecutive Long Island Championship this evening and fourth in program history in a tightly contested 35-26 victory over Friends Academy. In a battle between two private schools, the Bears again prevailed over the Quakers, winning a fifth Long Island title at their expense including girls’ soccer victories from 2007-2009 and the boys’ basketball triumph last March.

The girls shook off a habit that had plagued them in their last two playoff victories over Southold and Pierson: an inability to find the net in the first quarter. In each of those contests our girls mustered a paltry four points in the opening frame, a problem they did not have tonight as they jumped out to an 11-2 lead punctuated by a shot clock buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Brannon Burke (the first of three times the girls would narrowly beat the horn). The Brook pushed the lead out to nine by halftime after a 9-6 second quarter left them up 20-11 at the break.

The Bears appeared poised, methodical, and in control in the first half, which made what happened in the third quarter so surprising. The Quakers eclipsed their offensive production for the entire first half as they outscored the Brook 12-2 to grab a 23-22 lead entering the final frame. As if that was not devastating enough, Burke and Natalie Istrati each incurred their fourth foul in the third quarter, leaving two of our seniors in danger of fouling out of a close battle.

With the game’s momentum resting squarely in the Friends camp, our girls responded to the adversity the way that had all season long. This team had battled through injuries to Burke and Istrati, a tough league loss to Pierson, and a large turnover from last year’s championship squad, yet when games were on the line they continued to find a way. The key to their biggest wins of the season was their defense and tonight was no different as they limited the Quakers to three points in the fourth quarter, Friends’ worst period of the game, while our girls poured in 13 for their highest eight-minute output of the contest. Jess Winston, after being held scoreless in the first half, was the catalyst for the offense in the fourth. She persevered through the tough defense to score 7 of her 11 points in the pivotal quarter to help the Bears take back the lead for good.

Tonight was a total team effort. Our senior trio of Burke, Winston, and Istrati has been our rock the entire season and tonight was no different as they accounted for 74.3% of our offense. Keara Vancol and Danielle Pappas continued to excel on the defensive end and each scored some crucial baskets to help clinch another title for the Blue and White. Our girls move on to the state quarterfinals and will play the winner of Tri-Valley (Section 9) and Haldane (Section 1) Friday at Mount St. Mary College at 5:00pm.

Jessica Winston said she had a realization early in the fourth quarter that “this could be our last high school basketball game.” The Stony Brook senior point guard prolonged her high school career for at least one more game as she scored seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter to lead Stony Brook over Friends Academy.

~ Newsday

Notes

The 35-26 victory was eerily similar to the boys’ 35-29 win over the Quakers one year ago tomorrow…  This is Danielle Pappas’ fourth Long Island Championship along with her soccer titles from 2007-2009. It is Brannon Burke’s fourth as well as she won a soccer title in 2008 and basketball titles in 2009 and 2010. They are both one behind Sadie Singer’s record of five…  The girls’ title was the 9th Long Island Championship in Stony Brook history…  Check out Newsday’s slideshow of pictures here… Check out Newsday’s game recap hereCheck out the Three Village Patch’s game recap here.

It’s a great, great feeling. In the beginning of the season a lot of people didn’t even think we were going to make it out of the County and now we’ve won the Island and it’s just–it’s an incredible feeling and I’m so proud of my team.

~ Brannon Burke in a post-game interview with MSG Varsity

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NYSPHSAA

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