Goldstein was confident in the fourth quarter. How could the Dolphins not be? They had led the whole way, were up seven points and the packed crowd was behind them going crazy.
“We did everything we needed,” coach Adrian Bucchalter said. “Until the last three, four minutes.”
Then, just like that, the team’s streak of almost five years without losing a PSAL game at home was over.
Curtis senior Dana Gildea went off for 13 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, stunning No. 2 Goldstein in a 55-49 loss to the 10th-seeded Warriors in the PSAL Class A girls basketball quarterfinals on March 10 in Sheepshead Bay.
“We were saying in the huddle, this is our game,” Dolphins star Brittany McDonough said with tears welling up in her eyes. “We need this. I don’t know what happened. This is our home. They went on a run and we couldn’t stop them.”
Her layup put Goldstein up 40-33 with 6:51 left in the game. The Dolphins already seemed to have withstood the biggest run by the Warriors, who got within 31-30 on two free throws by Ayo Adedapo with 3:12 remaining in the third. Nora Elbassiony responded with a 3-pointer and Chrissy McKeever made a tough inside basket to give Goldstein a six-point cushion it would take into the third quarter.
Everything Buchhalter wanted to do was working. The coach refused to let Gildea beat his team and she had just four points after three facing good defense.
“We held Dana down,” he said. “She wasn’t shooting well. She didn’t like the [dim] lighting. There were things in her head.”
Then the light went on for her. Gildea hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one that pulled Curtis within 40-39 with 6:34 left and another that gave the Warriors a 48-43 lead with 2:20 to go. Goldstein had no answer.
“Dana beat us basically,” Bucchalter said. “That’s what this comes down to.”
Elbassiony had 16 points, including five 3-pointers, McDonough had 12 points and McKeever had 10 in her final career game.
“It’s our last game with Chrissy,” McDonough said. “It’s not gonna be the same next year. … School is so different without basketball. We’re such like a family, not even like a team.”
It was a hard loss to take for a team that hadn’t lost a PSAL game at home since 2005-06. Goldstein went to the Class B final two years ago and won the ‘B’ title last season, falling in the New York State Federation Class B semifinals in Glens Falls. This will be the Dolphins’ first time not in a final in three years.
“It hurts, especially since we had the lead,” Bucchalter said. “We’re pretty good with the lead.”
An emotional McDonough found a bright spot, though.
We went from the ‘B’ divison all the way to the ‘A,’” she said. “We made the second seed, three rounds in the playoffs and we only lost by a couple points. I think this is great. Because we went from no one to people talking about us all over.”