A battered and bruised John Adams girls basketball team trailed South Shore by eight points heading into the fourth quarter of the PSAL B championship game at Madison Square Garden Sunday.
But the undermanned Spartans, the defending city champions, reached deep down and rallied going ahead briefly, 40-39, on Dinorah Diazs three-point play with 46 seconds left. After leading by as many as 11 in the second half, the Vikings needed a clutch free throw by Jacqueline Campbell to force overtime.
Despite missing two starters, Adams appeared to have the momentum heading into the extra session. And then, at the most inopportune time, the Spartans struggled. They went 3:54 seconds without scoring a point in overtime and when Diaz scored two free throws with six seconds remaining, it was too late as South Shore celebrated a 47-42 victory.
We had too many injuries, it killed us, said a teary-eyed Michelle Tusa. The senior had 14 points in her final high school game. I thought we were going to win, but we blew it.
Already without Jennifer Porrazzo, who missed the playoffs, Adams was dealt a crushing blow Tuesday when Amanda Sanders broke her left hand in a car accident. Sanders, a 5-foot-7 power forward who was the teams leading scorer, was not cleared to play against the Vikings.
When 40 percent of your starting lineup is unable to play, its a monumental task, said Adams coach Harold Kreiger. But this team wound up playing the city champions to overtime. They never quit, it was unbelievable.
To Tusa, Diaz and the rest of the Spartans, the pain of the loss was clear as they walked off the court. Some chose to cover their faces to hide the tears. Others, including Sanders, openly wept.
The hardest thing about this defeat, the worst thing is that the nicest player felt it was her fault because of the accident, Kreiger said. Thats the furthest thing from the truth.
After a tight first half, South Shore (25-1) went on a key 7-0 run in the final minute of the second quarter to take a 23-16 lead into the break. Medicia Jefferys driving layup extended the Vikings lead to eight.
Tusa (4-for-9 from three-point range) nailed her second three-pointer of the game to cut South Shores lead to 25-22 with 5:13 left. But the Vikings followed with eight straight points, capped by Remeeka Beals trifecta from the corner, to take a 33-22 lead with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
Diaz, the Spartans 5-foot-9 freshman center, took over in the fourth quarter, scoring Adams first six points of the fourth quarter to cut its deficit to two, 35-33. South Shore extended its lead to 39-35 on Beals turnaround jumper with 3:50 left.
But the Spartans (21-4) went on a 5-0 run, capped by a great dish by a penetrating Moore to Diaz (17 points, 16 rebounds) for a three-point play to take a 40-39 lead.
Nicole Moore was awesome, without her we couldnt have even stayed in the game, Kreiger said. Michelle Tusa hit some big threes and Dinorah Diaz scored some big points. Those three starters played big, big time. We almost stole a victory.
After Campbells free throw sent the game into overtime, South Shore coach Jeff Bieder told his team to expect Adams to double-team Beal who was named the games MVP after scoring a game-high 18 points and grabbed nine boards. When they do, he said, find Latoya Francis.
The plan worked to perfection.
Francis (10 points) opened the extra session by slashing through the lane followed by a steal and a baseline jumper to put the Vikings ahead, 44-40. A layup by Jasmine Sistrunk put South Shore ahead 46-40 with 21 seconds left. Diaz finally put the Spartans on the board in overtime with two free throws with six seconds left, but the game was already decided.
Our defense, I think, wore them out, said Bieder, who also won two PSAL Class B crowns as a player at Bergtraum in 1980 and 1984. Of course Remeeka came up big and when they put two on her I told Latoya to go to the basket because the middle was wide open.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2001 Community News Group
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