Senior forward Brittany Henry has been a quiet force during the Bishop Ford girls basketball team’s playoff run, and she saved her best performance for when it mattered most.
She scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and provided two of the game’s biggest baskets to help Ford hold off Bishop Loughlin 62–51 to earn the school’s first ever Catholic Class AA state title at Cardinal Spellman on Saturday night. Henry, a role player for most of her career, is playing the best basketball of her career.
“It’s championship time,” she said. “It’s time for me to step up for my team.”
Her two layups off feeds from stars Aaliyah Jones and Aaliyah Lewis gave the Falcons a 54–48 lead with 2:25 left to play in what was a back and forth battle throughout. Henry has been a force on the defensive end all post-season has earned the confidence of her teammates.
“Those were clutch baskets for us,” Lewis said.
Making history took contributions from everyone. Lewis scored 17 points and Jones and Brandi Segars added 12 a piece for Ford (24–7). Freshman Giobeth Perez scored just six points, but four came in the final 1:00 to seal the victory after Jones fouled out.
“The last couple of minutes I played great,” Perez said. “I hit my shots in the last minutes.”
Loughlin, which lost both regular season meetings to Ford, forced the Falcons to grind out the victory by playing tough defense. Imani Tate scored 21 points and Jasmine Alston netted 17. The Lions (13–14) trailed just 48–46 with 4:41 left in the game before Ford went on a 7-2 to grab control of the game.
The Brooklyn rivals squared off against each other a day after they won stirring victories in the semifinals. Ford reached its first-ever title game by decisively beating Archbishop Molloy 62–48. The Loughlin squad triumphed over Moore Catholic 47–44 in a dramatic late-game comeback.
Most people wouldn’t have picked Loughlin, which was winless at the varsity level four years ago, to make the final. It won the Federation Class A title last season, gritted out a win over Archdiocesan champion Moore Catholic in this year’s semifinals, and fell just short of winning a championship at the highest level.
“We fought every night,” Tate said. “We played together. We have a lot of heart.”
But it is Ford, still playing without suspended coach Mike Toro, that is taking home the championship plaque. The Ford squad, which already earned its first diocesan title, faces the Public School Athletic League winner at 5:30 pm on March 22.
The Falcons don’t plan on stopping now, but continue to enjoy each step along the way.
“Everything is a first right now,” Lewis said. “I’m really proud of everyone. It feels great to make history and be the first one to do it.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk