WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Blind Brook High School girls basketball team booked consecutive trips to the Class B finals with a 39-33 win against Kennedy Catholic on Tuesday.
The Trojans led, 22-12, at halftime and outscored the Gaels, 11-3, in the second quarter, but Blind Brook could not put the game away in the fourth quarter until the final moments.
“We had a good strong start…and then we knew at the end of the day, the better team finishes it, and that’s what we had to do,” said Blind Brook’s Ali Silfen, who led the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. “And we showed that we’re the better team.”
Blind Brook led 29-22 after the third quarter and showed signs of slowing down in the second half, particularly with several missed free throws in the fourth quarter that kept Kennedy in the game.
Head coach Manny Martinez said the slump was a result of conditioning.
“This is a big court. Kids are not used to playing on a big court,” Martinez said. “I’ve been kind of going a little easy on them leading in, hoping that they can conserve their energy, but the girls on both teams - I think you could see it on JFK as well - they were just tired.”
The game became increasingly physical, particularly in the fourth quarter, as Kennedy started to press and both teams’ post players battled under the basket. The referees let the girls play, and a scary moment occurred late in the fourth quarter as Blind Brook’s Lea Saliba hit the ground hard on a fast break after a foul by Kennedy’s Shayna Gaskins, who was ejected.
“Definitely it was a physical game,” Silfen said. “Especially two posts going at it all the time, not used to seeing two girls as big as us. We’re used to playing physical teams…We just had to keep our composure and do what we had to do to close it.”
Barring an upset, the second-seeded Trojans will face top-seeded Irvington, the three-time defending state champions, in the finals on Saturday at 7 p.m. And Martinez did not sugarcoat the monumental task his team will face.
“What can I say? They’re going to be the heavy favorites coming in. I’m not delusional. I know what we’re up against,” Martinez said. “But we’re going to come out, and we’re going to compete for as long as we can and as best as we can.”