Sachem East girls basketball coach Matt Brisson said he sometimes wonders how committed his players are in improving their foul shooting. Against powerhouse Long Island Lutheran on Thursday night, Brisson got his answer.
Sachem went 21-for-25 from the free throw line - outscoring the Crusaders by 10 from the charity stripe - defeating Lutheran (14-3) in a highly anticipated match up of two of Long Island’s top teams.
“We only get four non-league games, so we want them to count,” Brisson said, whose team upped their record to 13-1 (10–0 in League I play). “[Lutheran] came to play tonight. They’re a great team, and we had our hands full.”
Lutheran took a 10–7 lead after the first quarter, and kept that margin into halftime, leading 23–20. Early in the third, Christina Raiti stretched the Crusaders lead to 29–20 with a three-pointer, but Emily Carmel answered back with her own three. On the next possession, Kaitlin Lavelle nailed a three, extending Lutheran’s lead back to nine, 32 – 23. But another Sachem three-pointer, this one by Katie Doherty, again cut the lead to six, 32 – 26. In a span of under two minutes, the teams combined for 12 long-range points.
“They’re a tough team down low, so we gave them more room on the outside. You can’t completely shut them down,” Brisson said, as his team played zone throughout, collapsing down to defend against the Lutheran inside game.
The Arrows then went on a modest 4–0 run, with Allie Drake hitting both ends of a two-shot foul. Following a Lutheran time out, Raiti hit another three. But Drake converted two more foul shots, and when Doherty made two more, Sachem had closed to within two, 36–34 after three quarters.
“When they tell me that they’re doing their foul shots and we don’t see the results, I’ve wondered whether they’re working,” Brisson said. “But in key spots tonight, they came through.”
Early in the fourth, Katie Doherty’s lay-up tied the score at 36, and when Meagan Doherty nailed a three-pointer with 5:37 remaining, Sachem took the lead for good, 39 – 36 lead. The Arrows were tenacious in rebounding and going after loose balls on both ends of the court, resulting in many second and third chances, and ultimately, many trips to the free-throw line.
“We’re always criticized for our rebounding,” Meagan Doherty said. “We hear it from everyone in the stands. We’re not a soft team. We can box out and defend against anyone.”
Added Everson, “We have a target on our backs because of our success. We knew that [Lutheran] was bigger than us. But we worked harder.”
And in doing so, Sachem answered the critics who questioned their ability to rebound and make clutch free throws.
Scoring: Meagan Doherty finished as the game’s top scorer, with 18 points. Katie Doherty had 12, and Kathleen Everson added 10. Allie Drake (9) and Emily Carmel (5) rounded out the scoring for the Arrows. Yuni Sher led Lutheran with 13 points, and Raiti added 10.