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Bobcats crowned at last

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Beatrice Wallace immediately noticed the absence of a girls’ basketball championship banner when she arrived at Brooklyn College Academy three years ago, and she vowed to do something about it.

This year, Wallace made good on that promise, helping her team earn that elusive crown with a victory over the school that beat the Bobcats in the title game last season.

Seventh-seeded Brooklyn College Academy held on to beat No. 1 East Harlem Pride 46–42 in the Public School Athletic League Class B final at Baruch College on March 21. It advances to the state Federation tournament and faces Catholic champion Cardinal O’Hara (Buffalo) in the semifinals on March 28 at UAlbany.

“We got it,” said Wallace of the long-coveted crown. “That was my dream ever since freshmen year, to get this championship. Now we got it, so I’m happy.”

Brooklyn College Academy, which led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, appeared ready to cruise to the crown. It used a 13–0 third-quarter run capped by a Shajuna Henry layup to take a 37–24 advantage into the fourth. But the comfortable lead didn’t last long.

East Harlem Pride came roaring back behind forward Daisha Davis. The Pride went on a 11–2 run to close within 42–39 with 3:33 to go in the game.

“The clock could not go fast enough,” said fourth-year coach Kristin Conlon. “It was slow and nerve-wracking, but the girls held on.”

Her team felt the pressure, but didn’t panic. Shania Brown calmly made a layup and Shajuana Henry found Tatiyana Highsmith for an easy score to put the Bobcats back up six with 36 seconds remaining to put the game away.

Henry led the way with 19 points and Wallace had 12 for the Bobcats (25–0). Brown chipped in 11 points. Danisha Davis paced East Harlem Pride with 18 points, but fellow forward Brashawnda Burrus was held to just nine. Brooklyn College Academy didn’t back down from the Pride bigs like it did a year ago.

“We were intimidated by the two big girls in the post [last year],” Henry said. “I feel like today we actually tried to box out and pull through and not give up on the play.”

East Harlem Pride did jump out to an 11–2 lead and appeared to be in control of the game early. But Brooklyn College Academy quickly responded behind Wallace. It held the Pride scoreless for the next 5:17 and turned its defense into offense. The Bobcats rattled off a 14–0 run over the first and second quarters. It started with Brooklyn College Academy scoring seven points, including five points from Wallace in the final 1:01 of the first quarter. The spurt was capped by a Highsmith layup that gave her team a 16–11 lead with 4:34 to go in the half.

It took some composure and few big shots late to hold on to that advantage, but a girls’ basketball championship banner will now hang in the school.

“Right now, it hasn’t set in yet,” Wallace said. “It’s just unbelievable right now. When I go home, it is going to sink in.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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