Yesterday evening, the girls’ basketball team made history by claiming their first PSAA tournament title with a 49-25 victory over Avenues at Island Garden. After winning three of the four regular season crowns since joining the league in 2018-19, the team finally stands alone as the playoff queens, becoming the 11th Stony Brook team to win a PSAA Championship event out of a possible 16. It was also the team’s first postseason title since a 56-39 win over Southold in the 2013 NYSPHSAA Suffolk County Championship.
In the last match-up with the Aviators, in which the Bears clinched the outright regular season title, the Bears gutted out a 38-30 win in a physical and frustrating game. The girls knew Avenues would do everything they could to slow down their potent attack, and they were able to do just that… for a little while.
The Bears missed their first eight field goal attempts as Avenues attempted to impose its will with an energetic trapping defense. After the Aviators opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, Ava McCormick hit a free throw that would prove to be the Bears’ only scoring until the 3:15 mark, but while their offense tried to find its rhythm, their defense was in championship form. Jocelyn McCrain’s floater tied the game at 3-3 with 3:15 left before Avenues answered with a layup. McCrain tied it again with a floater, Scarlett Davey followed with a steal and score, and McCrain connected on a layup to extend the lead to 9-5. Avenues hit another layup to stem the run, but McCrain answered with another layup with under a minute left to give her eight points in the frame and the Bears an 11-7 lead. Avenues capped the scoring with a free throw and a layup to pull within 10-11 after one.
Davey scored the first points of the second quarter on a jumper that beat the shot clock buzzer. Two buckets from Avenues gave them back a 14-13 edge, but it would be their last lead of the game. Chloe Feldman, the Bears’ unsung hero all season, hit a runner and a layup to give The Brook back a 17-14 advantage, which the Aviators answered with a layup. With the Bears leading 17-16 and 2:57 left before the half, the game appeared headed for a taut second half. What ensued was a 24-0 run as the Bear defense held Avenues scoreless for the next 12:23 of game time. They would not score again until 6:34 left in the game. McCrain started the surge with consecutive baseline drives that led to a pair of layups and a 21-16 lead. Steals from Myla Lombardo and Feldman held the Aviators at bay before Niamh Scanlon scored her first points of the half on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Bears a 24-16 lead and an emotional lift at the break.
Avenues was held entirely scoreless in the third while the Bears poured in 13 points behind Ava McCormick’s 10 points and a Scanlon 3-pointer. With a 37-16 lead in hand, the Bears scored the first four points of the fourth to squash any hopes of a miracle comeback. As the final seconds ticked away, Scanlon and McCormick threw their arms around each other in a special moment between two seniors who have been so essential to the team’s success over their run together. When the final buzzer sounded, the Bears had claimed the 15th postseason championship in their illustrious history, along with nine NYSPHSAA Suffolk County titles, four Long Island crowns, and one Regional Championship.
Defense was once again the Bears’ calling card. In their PSAA semifinal vs. Portledge, they held the Panthers scoreless through three quarters and the first 26:25 of game action, racking up 24 steals on the game in a 44-8 win. Yesterday evening, they turned a nailbiter into a laugher by shackling the Aviators for over 12 minutes, proving once again the old adage that “defense wins championships.”
McCrain led all scorers with 15 points in what could be the first of many memorable championship moments from our talented freshman. McCormick scored 13 in her final game in a Bears uniform, bringing to a close a decorated six-year career across three sports. Scanlon added 6 points to help secure the only thing missing from her crowded trophy case: a basketball tournament title. Scarlett Davey (6), Feldman (5), Lombardo (2), and Quinn Davey (2) rounded out the scoring.
The Bears move on to the NYSAIS State Tournament next Wednesday. They find out their opponent and location on Saturday.