It wasn’t shaping into the best of games for Jeane Jennings.
The Bishop Ford junior guard was struggling to find her shot the entire night. But the ball found its way in her hands with the game on the line as Aaliyah Lewis fed her all alone at the top of the key with the seconds ticking away.
“I didn’t want to lose,” said Jennings, who scored just five points. “I was off the whole game. I just felt I had to make that shot.”
The ball found nothing but the bottom of the net with 2.8 seconds left to play. Shatira Hamlet’s desperation heave from halfcourt was no good and the Falcons escaped Fresh Meadows with a thrilling, 49-46 win over St. Francis Prep in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls basketball last Tuesday night. The Terriers knocked off Ford in overtime there last season.
“She said that was my Christmas present,” Falcons coach Mike Toro said. “I’m happy for the kid because she had her ups and downs and I was getting on her a lot in the game, especially the last few timeouts for passing up wide open shots. … The next thing you know she wins a ball game.”
Brittany Lewis scored 14 points, showing off a consistent jumper, and grabbed eight rebounds and Aaliyah Lewis had 11 points and seven assists for Ford (4-5, 2-3), ranked No. 6 in the city by The Post. Shanice Vaughan, who attacked the basket consistently in the second half, added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Katherine Kraus scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers and grabbed eight rebounds for the Terriers (2-4, 0-1). Jenna Halaby had 15 points and seven rebounds and Meghan Erdman and Hamlet added six points apiece.
“I knew she was going to hit it,” Vaughan said of Jennings’ shot.
St. Francis Prep grabbed a 44-42 lead with 2:53 left in the game as Hamlet drove in for two and Erdman buried a long jumper from the left side. The Terriers handled Ford’s fullcourt pressure well for most of the game, but Ford forced back-to-back turnovers that led to an Aaliyah Lewis layup in transition and two Anjali Moncrieffe free throws to put the Falcons up 46-44 with 2:03 remaining.
“We really needed those turnovers,” Vaughan said.
Hamlet snuck into the left block for a short jumper to tie the score at 46 with 25 seconds left, after Halaby and Erdman missed long jumpers on the prior possession. The Terriers gave a foul with 6.3 seconds on the clock. But Jennings would get lost on the ensuing inbounds play thanks to a screen and SFP looking to trap in the corner, resulting in an open look that she made sure not to miss.
“They found a way to fight though and stay composed and win the game,” Toro said.
The victory was an important one for the Falcons, losers of three straight, including a home league loss to Archbishop Molloy. They got off to a slow start against SFP, trailing 15-7 after the first quarter, but led by two at the half. Prep shocked Ford last year just days afetr the Falcons upset Christ the King.
Toro moved up sophomore forward Tanasia (Sweets) Blake, who showed promise, to aide on the boards and add size. They are still without Diani Mason and Brittany (Pookie) Martin because of injury.
“We are hungry,” Jennings said. “It’s like we have to prove ourselves to everybody now.”