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Francis Lewis stuns Murry Bergtraum, 50-44

Three-time defending PSAL girls’ basketball champions Murry Bergtraum strike fear in many opponents merely by showing up at the gym. Not on Sunday afternoon, as Francis Lewis stood up to the PSAL bullies, scoring a stunning 50-44 upset at the Manhattan Winter Classic at Hunter College.

“We have tremendous respect [for Murry Bergtraum],” Francis Lewis coach Michael Eisenberg said. “But we were not intimidated this time.”

As opposed to last time, when the Lady Blazers throttled Francis Lewis at Madison Square Garden, 72-36, in last year’s championship game. There would be no fear factor this time, as the Patriots actually played the role of aggressor from the start.

Lewis point guard Teresa Rozza delivered a message to Bergtraum (15-2) in the form of two hard drives to the basket in the first couple of minutes. The junior assisted on Nicole Iannotto’s second field goal of the first quarter as Francis Lewis (16-1) opened an 11-7 lead. Rozza had a huge impact on the game with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

“We knew we could compete with them,” Rozza said. “We just had to come out and play with confidence.”

Days before the contest, Eisenberg said his team would have to contain Bergtraum’s “WNBA-like” frontcourt trio of 5-foot-10 Crystal McFadden, 5-foot-10 Chanel Moore, a transfer from Christ the King, and 6-foot-1 Tracy Wright. In order to score an upset, he also stressed the importance of his backcourt’s play. Eisenberg’s forecast could not have been more accurate.

McFadden scored seven points in the first, but was silent the rest of the game. She grabbed nine rebounds and shot a putrid 3-for-19 from the floor to finish with 10 points. Moore finished with eight points and Wright was a non-factor with four points.

Moore managed to put Bergtraum back on top, 32-30, with three minutes left in the third quarter. Junior Maria Miaoulis responded with a three-pointer to regain the lead for Francis Lewis. She hit one more in the third and another from beyond the arch in the fourth to make the score 47-40 with 3:30 left.

A natural forward, Miaoulis worked on her game during the summer and it showed. She came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points. Her clutch shooting (4-for-5 on three pointers) fired up her teammates and the crowd.

“She worked very hard to improve her game,” Eisenberg said. “She’s been our best three-point shooter.”

Bergtraum’s Carmen Guzman hit a clutch three-pointer of her own as the buzzer sounded to end the third. The bucket gave the Lady Blazers a 39-38 lead and could easily have deflated the Lady Patriots. But Jasmin Lawrence, who finished with 10 points, and Miaoulis each rattled in three-pointers as Francis Lewis opened the final period on a 9-1 run to regain the momentum.

“[Francis Lewis] played hard and made big baskets,” Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky said. “We didn’t answer them back. Everything was out of synch.”

The Lady Blazers suffered their only other loss of the season against Manhattan Center, 46-45, in the season opener. In a rematch a few weeks later, they smoked the Lady Rams, 85-36. Francis Lewis may want to keep that in mind in case it meets the Lady Blazers again in the postseason.

The win puts the Lady Patriots in position for a possible No. 1 seed in the playoffs. It also delivered a message to Bergtraum — for the time being — and future opponents, some of which may shudder at the thought of playing Francis Lewis.

Edison 27, Forest Hills 23. Anika Charles scored 11 points to lead Edison (8-7, 6-3 Queens II-B).

Newcomers 44, Richmond Hill 31. Laura Burlacu led Newcomers (4-9) with 28 points and 21 rebounds in a non-league game.

Long Island City 64, Academy of American Studies 63. Dafina Bright had 33 points and Alexis Smith (11 points) hit a layup with six seconds left to lift LIC (5-9, 3-5 Queens III-B) to an overtime victory. Tenessa Roizman netted a game-high 40 points for American Studies.

Flushing 49, Wagner 43. Monet Pledger scored 27 points to lead Flushing (4-13, 2-7 Queens III-B).

Newcomers 41, Forest Hills 38. Laura Burlacu had a triple double (21 points, 16 rebounds and 10 steals) and scored a clutch layup with eight seconds left in the game. Armela Dosti’s three-pointer with one minute left gave Newcomers (3-9, 2-6 Queens II-B) 37-36 lead as they defeated Forest Hills for the first time in the program’s four-year history.

Cleveland 48, Renaissance School 26. Jennifer Barenboim and Shannon Gonzalez scored 10 points apiece to lead Cleveland (13-2, 8-0 Queens II-B).

Edison 35, RFK 18. Jillian DeCoursey had 17 points for Edison (5-3 Queens II-B) and Michelle Wallace led RFK with 18 points.

—Dylan Butler contributed to this story

Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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