Following a 14-point come-from-behind thriller Wednesday against St. Edmund Prep, Sheepshead Bay, it seemed like nothing could stop the Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst, Tigers from capturing the Class ‘B’ girls’ basketball city championship.
Kearney was still fresh off winning the Division II Brooklyn/Queens diocesan championship with a weekend victory over St. John’s Prep, Astoria.
But the Tigers ran out of steam and dropped a tough 44-37 contest Thursday to the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel, White Plains, N.Y.
The game was extremely competitive for three quarters, but the Good Counsel Cougars relied on a 15-0 run spanning the second quarter to thwart the Tigers’ hopes of another late-game comeback.
Kearney opened the game on a 7-2 run, and back-to-back field goals by junior Nicolette Conti off the bench gave the Tigers a four-point lead after the first quarter.
Good Counsel immediately took the lead early in the second, and the Tigers struggled with turnovers. The defense that had thrived in the first quarter broke down in the second, which allowed the Cougars to hit clutch baskets from beyond the three-point line.
“We’re physically prepared for what we have to do in games, but it’s a mental issue,” said Kearney head coach Rocco Sellitto of his team’s play in the second quarter. “We get under pressure, we start making some mistakes and then it snowballs.”
Trailing 22-11 heading into the halftime, the Tigers needed to come out strong to start the second half to get back in the game. However, it was the Cougars who drained three consecutive three-pointers to open their largest lead of the game at 17 points.
Sellitto called a timeout, giving his team a chance to regroup. The second quarter was an emotional struggle, and the Tigers needed a bit more than just the halftime break to settle down.
After catching their breath, the Tigers finally found their groove. Kearney ended the third quarter on a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to five heading into the fourth.
The Tigers needed to keep up the intensity to pull off another comeback, but a 6-0 run by Good Counsel early in the fourth distanced the Cougars just enough. Back-and-forth scoring ensued, but by that point, the Cougars’ lead was too much to overcome.
The Tigers actually outscored the Cougars 26-22 in the second half and 37-29 in three of the four quarters, but the scoreless second quarter ultimately sealed Kearney’s fate.
“We won the (Brooklyn/Queens) championship because we’re a team,” said Kearney senior Kristen Ferrigno. “We just need to play as a team always, and there’s no one who could stop us when we play like that.”
Good Counsel senior Amilya Jeanty led all scorers with 14 pts. in the contest. Her teammate, senior Tranisha Gumbs, recorded a double-double with 12 pts. and a game-high 12 rebounds and also had three steals.
Off the bench for the Cougars, junior Kathleen Massaroni had six pts., nine rebounds and three steals, while junior Gaelle Desroches added eight pts. and five rebounds.
For Kearney, junior Emily Hiltunen led the way with nine pts. and also had four rebounds and two assists. Junior Christina Heyer finished with seven pts. and a game-high four steals, while senior Samantha Simon poured in six pts.
The Tigers were active on the glass, with sophomore Gabriella Monferatto leading the team with 11 rebounds and Ferrigno grabbing nine boards. Sophomore Jennifer Kaye turned in a solid effort off the bench with five points, three rebounds and two blocked shots.
Despite the loss in the city championship, the team should be proud of how far it advanced.
“When you win, you want more, and that is why this was a harder game for them to lose today,” Sellitto said. “But after a few minutes, you realize we had a great season.”
“Each year, we’ve come a step closer,” Hiltunen said. “Last year, we went to the (Brooklyn/Queens) championship and lost by one point. This year, we won the (Brooklyn/Queens) championship and got this far. All we can do is work for next year and maybe make it to the states.”
Kearney will lose three seniors, but the core of the team remains in tact, coupled with some rising underclassmen from the junior varsity team. All that means is that the expectations will be that much higher for this year’s Brooklyn/Queens champion.