By Joseph Staszewski
Coach Steve Tsai and star Sierra Green both emerged from the Francis Lewis locker room shaking their heads in disbelief.
Their second-seeded Francis Lewis girls’ basketball team is heading back to the championship game for the second time in three years, but even they weren’t sure how.
The Patriots rallied from 10 points down in the third quarter and seven in the fourth to eke out a win against No. 3 Truman 48-47 in the PSAL Class AA girls’ basketball semifinals at CCNY Tuesday.
“I don’t even know how we won that game, but at least we were able to pull it through” Tsai said.
They did so with point guard and 1,000-point scorer Taliyah Brisco (11 points), center Sabrina Clement fouling out in the fourth quarter and Truman dominating the rebounding battle on both ends. The Patriots scored as many points in the fourth quarter (24) as they didn’t in the first three quarters combined.
“It was an ugly win, we didn’t play how we were suppose to,” Green said.
Lewis (22-3) took the lead for good on a Rebecca Oxford layup off a steal by Green (eight points). Dominique Williams (nine points) split a pair of free throws to give her team a 48-45 lead with 35.1 seconds to go in the contest. Reserve guard Sabrina Vitale chipped in an all-important 10 points.
“Everybody pitched in a little bit, just to help us to even get close to Truman and then we finally took a lead,” Tsai said.
Closing it out was as difficult and wacky as the game itself. After two Aneisha Lyons free throws, Truman (19-8) had one more chance to go ahead with 11.9 seconds left. Lyons threw the ball in the backcourt after being trapped in the corner. Dyona Davis gave up on it, allowing Green to collect it. She missed the ensuing layup. Davis, who scored 19 points, grabbed the rebound, but kicked the ball away while trying to dribble up court before the final buzzer sounded.
“I guess I was too excited.” Green said of the layup.
There was little to be excited about for Lewis until Vitale provided a much-needed spark early in the fourth. She scored seven points in the first 3:48 of the frame, including two 3-pointers and her steal led to a Green hoop that put Lewis up 39-38 with 4:07 to play in the game.
“I knew I had to keep making shots in order to stay up and the rest of my team got confidence from it, too,” Vitale said.
Tsai knows his team must play better if it is going to beat No. 1 South Shore in the title game 10 a.m. Saturday at the World’s Most Famous Arena. The Vikings, who Lewis beat for the title in 2014, won their regular season meeting 64-44 back in early January.
The task ahead is tough, but the Patriots’ four seniors—who already own one title—are hungry for more.
“One last run,” Green said. “One last run. That’s all I can say.”