WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Irvington’s Brittni Lai had just missed two crucial free throws that could have given her team the lead.
And as she stood at that same line a few minutes later with just 6.3 seconds left and her team down by one point to Long Island Lutheran, thoughts of those misses crept into her head.
“What’s actually going through my mind is, I missed those last two. Man, if I made them, we would have been up,” Lai said. “So I just had to come back and prove myself and try to get it back.”
And she did just that as she coolly sank both free throws to give Irvington a 59-58 lead. Those free throws would be the final points of the game, as the Bulldogs completed a tremendous comeback Friday to stun Lutheran.
Irvington faced its largest deficit, 29-11, with 5:06 left in the second quarter. But the Bulldogs outscored the Crusaders, 48-29, after that to earn the win.
The Bulldogs defeated the Crusaders in the Federation championship last year after losing to Lutheran by one point the previous year. That fact was not lost on the Bulldogs during Friday’s rematch.
“That’s still in the back of our minds, also,” Lai said. “So it’s always great to beat them, cause we’re not going to see them if we make it up this year to Federation.”
Irvington and Lutheran are not in the same Class this season.
Lai finished with 21 points for Irvington, while Lexi Martins had 22 points and 17 rebounds.
The teams traded one-point and two-point leads for much of the fourth quarter. Lutheran got the ball back after Lai’s final free throw, pushed it across half court and called timeout with 4.5 seconds left. Sade Gibbons had a good look in the paint, but the shot missed.
Irvington coach Gina Maher told her team at halftime, as she usually does, that she believed they could win the game. And they proved her right by completing the comeback against one of the best teams in the state.
“I really think it just says that we’re a team that doesn’t give up and we’re a team that can compete with anyone,” Martins said. “They’re such a strong team, so I really think that this says a lot about our team, our program, about Ms. Maher as a coach to us.”
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