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Bears Clinch East Division Behind McCormick’s 25

February 9, 2022
McCormick in action this season (PC: Bruce Jeffrey)

When the girls’ basketball team tangled with Portledge last Friday evening, the Bears rode Niamh Scanlon’s impressive shooting to a dominant 38-17 win over their PSAA rivals. Scanlon poured in 32 points, including eight 3-pointers, while Ava McCormick tallied the other six in the decisive victory.

In Monday’s rematch in Locust Valley, Portledge focused their defensive energy on Scanlon, who was held to a season-low nine points, but her poise and willingness to distribute the ball allowed her teammates to beat the Panthers in numerous ways. Scanlon’s ever-present shooting threat also forced Portledge to defend out on the perimeter, allowing Ava McCormick to dominate inside on the way to a career-high 25 points.

Portledge displayed a short memory as they shook off last Friday’s defeat by jumping out to a 4-0 lead. McCormick opened the Bear attack with 3-point play before scoring a putback that leveled the game at 6-6. A Myla Lombardo offensive rebound and layup gave the Brook its first lead at the one-minute mark, but Portledge banked in a pair of jumpers to take a 10-8 lead after one.

Another Portledge jumper opened the second frame, before McCormick and a Panther traded layups. At that point, with the Bears trailing 10-14, they unleashed a 15-0 run that spanned the second and third quarters, to take control of the game. The surge began with a pair of McCormick free throws which she followed with a layup to tie the game at 14-14. A Scanlon jumper with 50 seconds left and another McCormick layup gave the Brook an 18-14 lead at the half.

Chloe Feldman emerged as a key contributor in the third as she opened the quarter with a jumper for two of her six points in the frame. A McCormick steal fed a Scanlon layup before the junior stole another pass and took it in herself to cap the run and give the Brook a 25-14 lead. With the Bears firmly in control, Portledge refused to wilt and instead responded with a 6-0 run of their own to stay within striking distance. Both squads traded scores the rest of the quarter as the Blue and White carried a 31-26 lead into the fourth.

A Feldman floater, that gave her six straight points for the Bears, opened the fourth before a tough Scanlon layup between two defenders gave the Bears a 35-26 lead. Portledge again responded at a key moment as they sank three 3-pointers, their only trifectas of the game, to knot the score at 35-35 with five minutes left. The Portledge run required a response from the Bears and instead of collapsing, they raised their level of play and put the game away. The Bears scored the next 12 points and held the Panthers to just two points the rest of the way, beginning with a McCormick layup. Lombardo followed with a steal and layup before Scanlon canned two free throws. McCormick capped the run with three layups to give the Brook a 47-35 lead on the way to a 48-37 win.

While McCormick and Scanlon accounted for the lion’s share of the scoring, Feldman (8 points) and Lombardo (5) provided numerous key scores and outstanding defense.

The victory secured the East #1 seed for the Brook in next week’s PSAA tournament. It also gave them the East Division regular season championship for the first time since 2019. They host #2 Portledge on Tuesday in the PSAA semifinals.

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