Turnovers doom Lewis in loss to St. Mary’s

By Joseph Staszewski

The final minutes were just a microcosm of Francis Lewis’ struggles all game against St. Mary’s.

Despite the turnovers and missed shots, the Patriots were still in position to win in the closing seconds, but those same problems held them back late. Lewis ended up falling 35-32 to St. Mary’s (L.I.) at the Super Jam girls’ basketball event at Nazareth Saturday.

“We should have played smarter,” senior guard Robyn Francis said.

The referees did not aid Lewis’ cause. Down just 33-29 with 30.8 seconds to go, Chi La Bady came up with a steal at halfcourt that would have started a fast break. The play was quickly negated by a technical foul on Patriots assistant coach Frank Wilbeck for something he said to the officials. Lewis head coach Steve Tsai said he only heard Wilbeck instructing the team, if anything.

“I didn’t hear it,” Tsai said. “I didn’t hear anything at all. That was a big play because not only did they turn the ball over, but we had a fast break and going for a layup that would have cut it to two right there.”

While the play was certainly important, Tsai lamented his team’s mistakes prior to that. Lewis, playing without injured star Sierra Green (thumb), committed 20 turnovers and did not score for four minutes in the fourth.

“We turned the ball over a lot,” Tsai said. “We weren’t really doing what we were supposed to be doing. We always talk about the end, but there were so many things that we shouldn’t have even been in that situation.”

Francis scored 16 points and did her best to keep her team in the game. Lewis is 4-1 without Green, who is expected to be back for their next game. The stretch has given players like Cassidy Khan, Dominique Williams and sophomore forward Sabrina Clement a chance to take on big roles.

Williams scored six points and Bady added four. Binghamton-bound guard McKayla Hernandez led St. Mary’s with 16 points and Tamina Cutignalo chipped in six. The Patriots limited St. John’s commit Jordan Agustus to just two. The Gaels played without James Madison signee Mei-Lyn Baustisa (ankle).

Lewis (11-3) feels being a little short-handed has been a good thing for the team because everyone will need to contribute if they are going to successfully defend its PSAL Class AA city title.

“It’s bad because no team wants to see their players be out,” Francis said. “It’s also good because it gives them that confidence that when she comes back, they don’t drop down and keep playing at the same level when she was gone.”

The Patriots did have a chance to tie the score with 5.3 seconds left, but had to go the length of the floor. The inbounds pass was stolen at halfcourt. To Tsai, it was another example of poor execution.

“These are things that we work on,” Tsai said. “If we are not going to do it, we are just going to keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”

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