CLIPPERS 39, MONARCHS 35
The full length of the court separated the McGann-Mercy girls basketball team from basket as they prepared to inbound for one final possession.
“Can you say Christian Laettner?” yelled out Southold/Greenport coach Howie Geismer.
None of the girls on the court were alive when Laettner caught a length-of-court pass, turned around and sank the famous jumper to give Duke a last-second win over Kentucky in 1992. Regardless, in this situation, Geismar didn’t need to worry about a heroic buzzer-beater, under one condition: no fouls.
The Clippers, leading by four, could simply stand back and watch as the Monarchs tried to get off a last shot. And when the buzzer sounded, the Clippers had themselves a hard-earned 39-35 victory to secure a second-place finish in the League VII standings.
After losing by one to Mercy on Jan. 21, the Clippers got even Friday night at McGann-Mercy High School in a game where both teams struggled shooting. Southold took the lead midway through second quarter and led the rest of the way, even as the Monarchs got as close two points late in the fourth quarter.
“This is like Ali-Frazier,” said Mercy coach Matt Brisson.
The teams could wind up facing each other again when the Class B playoffs begin next week, Brisson said. The Clippers close out the regular season 7-3 in league and 9-7 overall. Mercy finishes 5-5 and 6-12 overall.
“The girls just wanted it real bad,” Geismar said of the second-place finish. “That’s all they’ve been talking about the past two games.”
The Clippers beat Pierson, 38-35, on Tuesday to put themselves in position to take second behind unbeaten Port Jefferson.
Southold’s speedy sophomore, Madison Tabor, led all scorers with 19 points Friday. Tabor was electric in the open court, converting most of her baskets in transition off turnovers.
It’s something League VIII opponents have seen a lot of this year.
Brisson said when Tabor gave up the ball, the Monarchs tried to do everything possible to prevent her from getting it back. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
“She’s so quick,” Brisson said. “To get it out of her hands is a chore.”
Geismar added: “She’s our spark-plug.”
Tabor actually scored all her points in the first three quarters. In the fourth, it was sophomores Angelica Klavas and Toni Esposito who came up with key baskets to help propel Southold to the win.
After the Monarchs had gotten within two at 32-30 halfway through the fourth quarter, Esposito converted on a fastbreak off a Mercy turnover and was fouled. She hit the free throw to extend the Clippers’ lead to 35-30. The Monarchs got back within two again when Juliana Cintron-Leonardo put back an offensive rebound with 2:09 left.
The Clippers, after beating the Monarchs’ press, extended the lead right back when senior Keyna Sanders dished a pass underneath to Klavas for an easy two. Klavas then sank a short jumper with :52 left to make it a 39-33 Southold lead.
The Monarchs honored their two seniors before the game: Delaney Macchirole and Emily St. Louis. Macchirole scored seven points in the loss and St. Louis had two.
Mary Reiter led the Monarchs with nine points.