GLENS FALLS, N.Y. With members of the Christ the King girls basketball team openly weeping as they walked by him, Royals coach Bob Mackey attempted to rationalize what just happened.
That Murry Bergtraum beat Christ the King for a fourth straight year in the state Federation tournament was not a surprise. Its how quickly the Lady Blazers turned a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit into a one-point lead in a 65-60 victory Friday afternoon that came as a shock to almost everyone at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
In a game that essentially decided the national championship, No. 3 Bergtraum needed just 22 seconds to go on a 10-0 run, erasing a 52-43 hole to take a 53-52 advantage with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter in the state Federation semifinals.
Christ the King, ranked No. 2 in the country, wilted under the Bergtraum full-court press, turning the ball over three times during that span and 31 times during the game.
We turned the ball over and you cannot win when you turn the ball over against the press, Mackey said. We had our shot at the end but the turnovers killed us.
Sophomore Epiphanny Prince scored five of her game-high 38 points, and Erica Morrow added five of her six points during the stretch to put Bergtraum (28-1) in front.
I thought we were very well prepared for her, but she was phenomenal today, Mackey said of Prince. Thats got to be the best individual performance Ive seen against us this year.
Tina Charles (16 points, 16 rebounds, four blocks), who along with Carrem Gay (eight points, 10 rebounds) dominated inside, scored on a putback to give Christ the King (25-2) a 54-53 lead.
We thought if we got them the ball that wed be fine, Christ the King guard Lisa Manetta said of Charles and Gay. But we didnt take care of the ball and it didnt work out.
But Prince answered with a difficult fadeaway jumper and then Shannon Bobbit (13 points) buried a three-pointer to give the Lady Blazers a 58-54 lead with 1:37 left.
She didnt self-destruct like I thought she was going to today, Mackey said of Bobbit. She handled the ball pretty well. She didnt go into the Harlem Globetrotter act like Ive seen her do.
The Royals got within 61-60 on a layup by Charles with 30 seconds left, but Bobbit knocked down a pair of free throws, and Prince stole the ball from Nakejia Kelly and added a pair of free throws to put Bergtraum ahead for good with 22.7 seconds left.
Our guards made a lot of mistakes and that was the difference, Mackey said. Its March and guards win in March. Our guards werent there.
On Saturday Murry Bergtraum wrapped up its first national championship, beating Greece-Arcadia, 63-43, to win its third straight Federation crown.
We knew that their guard play wasnt up to par, and we tried to create as much pressure and havoc as we could in the backcourt, Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky said. We knew if they got the ball down low to the big girls that wed be in a little trouble.
Added Prince: It feels real good to take (the national championship) away from them.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2004 Community News Group
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