By Bill Landon
Harborfields led by 10 points early in the third quarter, but fouls troubled the Tornadoes’ defense, as Islip rallied back, capping off the quarter with a 3-pointer to retake the lead, 35-34. The Buccaneers slowly creeped ahead as a result of opportunities at the foul line, and put the game away 52-41 to win the Suffolk County Class A championship at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, Friday night.
Harborfields only mustered five points in the first quarter, and with just over six minutes left in the hald, with Islip ahead 11-10, Harborfields senior guard Angela Deren picked off an Islip in-bounds pass and cashed in to put the Tornadoes out front, 12-11. Deren, with the hot hand in the second quarter, nailed her second trey of the period to give her team a 19-13 lead with just over three minutes remaining until the break.
Harborfields sophomore guard Erin Tucker went to the line shooting two and split her appearance, but teammate Grace Zagaja, a junior center, swished both of hers, to give the Tornadoes a 24-16 lead at the end of the eight minutes.
Harborfields junior guard Christiana de Borja hit her first trifecta of the game two minutes into the third period — something she’s done all season long — but the powerhouse point guard found herself in foul trouble as the quarter wore on.
With de Borja committing her fourth personal foul, Harborfields head coach Glenn Lavey benched his starter with two minutes left in the third, to save her for the fourth.
The Tornadoes squandered many opportunities at the free-throw line, and Islip, trailing by two, hit a game-changing 3-pointer to retake the lead, 35-34. Despite Harborfields’ crowd chanting during Islip’s next chance at the charity stripe, the Buccaneers swished both attempts to take a three-point lead into the final quarter.
The momentum shifted Islip’s way as the Buccaneers surged ahead 43-34 with 4:51 left in regulation.
Back in action, de Borja banked her second trey of the game to help her team draw with six points, but her defensive pressure was muted, as her next foul would be her last.
Zagaja and teammate Kate Tardo, a junior forward, also fouled out.
Leading 45-37 with just over three minutes remaining, Islip slowed the pace and let the shot clock wind down. Desperate to stop the clock, the Tornadoes that remained in the game, fouled their opponent, but the strategy failed, as Islip was deadly from the free-throw line.
“They played better than us — they settled in and we needed to make a few shots just to keep the momentum going, but then they got hot and we went cold at the wrong time,”.Lavey said.
de Borja finished with a team-high 11 points, while Deren and junior forward Falyn Dwyer added eight points apiece, and Tucker followed close behind them with seven. With only one senior graduating off the roster, Harborfields can be confident knowing how far the team has come, and know what another year of experience can bring to those returning, to push them further through the bracket next season.
“We couldn’t press as hard as we did earlier in the game,” Lavey said.” We were being the aggressor and then we got tentative on defense because of foul trouble, so that was a problem for us.”