A season of growing pains turned into three important minutes of growth for Bishop Loughlin.
The Lions feature a roster filled with sophomores and juniors, many of whom were getting their first taste of the varsity level this year. With their game against St. Francis Prep hanging in the balance not just one, but multiple players made the plays necessary to secure an important win.
“They never panicked,” Loughlin coach Kasim Alston said. “They are growing up. It shows a little maturity.”
His team held on to beat the visiting Terriers, 58-54, in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls basketball last Saturday in Fort Greene. It gives the Lions a season sweep of the SFP and their second league win after going 0-16 overall last year. Imani Tate scored 17 points, Ayana Ratliff had 10 and Simone Charles eight. Aliyah Alston (Kasim’s daughter) and Chelsea Gibson each added six.
“To win we actually have to work together as a team,” Tate said. “We worked together. The whole team scored and did good.”
St. Francis Prep tied it up at 47 after two Jenna Halaby (17 points) free throws with 4:48 left in the game. From that point on Loughlin time and time again made the plays needed to win. Alston hit a floater along the left side and Ratliff buried a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to make it 54-49 with 1:45 to go in the game.
SFP, which shot 3-of-9 from the free throw line down the stretch, got within 54-52 with 1:03 remaining on a Katie Pulido (seven points) layup and 1-of-2 free throws from Katherine Kraus, but never closer. Meghan Erdman added 10 points and Katherine Hickman had eight.
“They got caught up in the speed of the game,” Terriers coach JoAnn Wagner said. “They got caught up in more one-on-one basketball then the team concept we have to play to win.”
Her squad, which led 37-31 early in the third, watched Pulido get called for a foul as Tate grabbed the rebound of a Gibson free throw miss. The sophomore made 1-of-2, but again came away with the board. On the ensuing possession, with the shot clock close to expiring, Jasmine Alston drove in hard along the right side for a score to put Loughlin up 57-52 with 33 seconds remaining.
“I knew she couldn’t guard me,” said Jasmine Alston, the coach’s cousin. “She was too tall and too long. I just went past her and hoped it went in.”
Shatira Hamlet put in a layup for St. Francis Prep and appeared to have another that would have trimmed Loughlin’s lead to just one after Tate missed two free throws. But Aliyah Alston blocked her from behind with 13.5 second left to all but seal the win.
“I think we got caught up a little bit in the way that they played instead of playing the game we usually play,” Halaby said.
The Lions on the one hand are happy with the way they are heading into the final weeks of the season looking to lock up a better playoff seed. The young team is showing signs of maturity and growth at the just the right time.
“It’s not going to get easier,” Kasim Alston said. “We have to be able to stand up and win some more games and buckle down.”