Yesterday evening, the girls’ basketball team gave us a Valentine’s Day to remember with one of the most impressive defensive performances in team history. In a 44-8 PSAA semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Portledge, the Bears held the Panthers completely scoreless until the fourth quarter, the first 26:25 of game action, to dominate their rivals and book their first PSAA Championship appearance since 2020.
Neither offense looked sharp in the opening minutes, and the Bears didn’t light up their side of the scoreboard until Ava McCormick scored a putback over three minutes in, but the Blue & White defense would give the offense all the time it needed to warm up. In fact, McCormick’s bucket alone would have kept the Bears in the lead until 5:35 remained in the fourth quarter, thanks to the swarming guards and McCormick’s interior presence. Niamh Scanlon followed with a putback, Jocelyn McCrain finished a fastbreak layup, and Quinn Davey hit a jumper to push the lead to 8-0 and prompt a Portledge timeout. The defense continued to stymie the Panthers, pilfering four more steals over the remainder of the quarter, before Scanlon closed the frame with a layup to give The Brook a 10-0 lead. The Bears grabbed seven more steals in the second quarter, giving them 11 at the half, while layups from McCormick and Myla Lombardo and free throws from Scanlon and McCrain nudged the lead out to 17-0 at the half.
The Bear offense finally changed gears in the third quarter as they scored 14 points to build a 31-0 lead entering the fourth quarter. McCrain hit a pair of 3-pointers, the Bears’ first trifectas of the night, and the defense grabbed six more steals to keep the Panthers off the board. In the final frame, a Lombardo layup extended the advantage to 33-0 before Portledge finally found the hoop on a putback with 5:35 remaining. Seven more steals in the period upped the Bears’ total to 24 on the game.
McCrain led all scorers with 12 points and was supported by Davey (9), McCormick (6), Lombardo (6), Scanlon (5), Jelissa Burnett (2), Mairead Reitzel (2), and Soraya Carrano (2). Scarlett Davey had 5 steals. The Bears on to face #3 Avenues in the PSAA Championship on Thursday at 7:00pm at Island Garden in Hempstead.
The victory contributed to a special night on which the boys’ varsity and JV teams also won their semifinal match-ups to set up a trio of championship games Thursday night at Island Garden.