The St. Francis Prep girls basketball team was seven-tenths of a second away from a phenomenal victory over Christ the King, the 10-time defending Class A State champions.
Thanks to two free throws by junior guard Jamie Hoffmeister, however, the game went into overtime where the Royals outscored the Lady Terriers, 9-4, en route to a 73-69 win Sunday afternoon at St. Francis Prep.
But unfortunately for St. Francis Prep, this was not just another loss. Instead of talking about Cigi McCollin's game-high 27 points for CK or a memorable performance by Prep's sophomore guard Dawn Gorynski and senior Lauren Kilduff, it was a mistake by the game's officials at the beginning of the extra session that was the talk of the post-game. It was an error that proved to be a huge factor in Christ the King's win.
Officials Angela Rodriguez and Rita Esiason lined up the teams in the wrong direction at the start of overtime. Kilduff (22 points, seven rebounds) won the tip, but the ball went into the hands of Christ the King junior Jen Dawson as Prep dropped back to defend the wrong basket.
Dawson paused momentarily, then passed to teammate Trish Tubridy, who was informed by the CK coaching staff of the mistake, and scored an uncontested layup for the first two points of the extra session.
"When Jen got the ball and threw it to me, I heard [Christ the King assistant coach] Jill [Cook] say, 'Trish, everybody's going the wrong way, go that way'," Tubridy said. "So I figured I'd go that way because I can't get in trouble because my coaches told me to do it."
Several players said the officials called the miscue "uncorrectable" and the game went on.
"I would have flipped out on the ref if that was us," Dawson said. "That was a big two points."
"The ref had pointed the wrong way and that was a bit unfortunate," Kilduff said. "But it was our own fault. We should have been paying more attention. We can't really use that as an excuse."
Christ the King junior sensation Clare Droesch, who was for the most part a non-factor, followed with a turnaround jumper in the lane to put the Royals ahead by four. St. Francis Prep (13-6, 7-2 CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens I) had a great chance to tie the score with 11.7 seconds left in overtime, when Kilduff was fouled by Droesch on a three-point attempt, but the senior from Flushing hit just one of the three foul shots. Tubridy followed with two free throws three seconds later to ice the game.
Christ the King (15-4, 8-1) led 17-16 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Terriers went on a 13-1 run late in the second quarter, capped by Dawn Kirchoff's bucket from the left blocks from a pass by Gorynski, to put Prep ahead 36-28 with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Royals fought back, led by sophomore guard McCollin, who scored 10 points in the third quarter, including a layup on a bullet pass from Dawson that tied the score at 44 with one minute left in the quarter.
The final minute of regulation was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Droesch's layup brought CK to within one, 61-60, with 58 seconds left. Prep senior guard Victoria Wancel answered right back with a driving layup to put the Lady Terriers ahead, 63-60, with 36 seconds remaining.
McCollin knocked down a three from the top of the key to tie the score at 63 with 14 seconds left, before Meghan-Ann Collins (19 points, eight rebounds) dropped a floater in the lane that gave the Lady Terriers a 65-63 lead with just nine seconds left.
Following a timeout, Droesch dribbled past midcourt, but was stripped by Gorynski. After a scramble for the ball, Hoffmeister picked up the ball and was fouled by Wancel, her fifth of the game, with 0.7 left in the game. In the one-and-one, the senior from Fresh Meadows nailed both to send the game into overtime.
"St. Francis Prep really came to play," said Christ the King coach Bob Mackey. "We had the lead early, but they came back. They did a great job."
For St. Francis Prep head coach Tom Finn, it was a chance for his team to prove they could play with Christ the King, a team that won by 25 in the earlier meeting between the two schools.
"I was proud of them, there were a lot of sad faces and a few tears, but we win as a team and we lose as a team," he said. "There's plenty of blame to go around, including me on not picking up on the jump ball situation."
Gorynski had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds for Prep. Droesch had 14 points and Tubridy added 12 for the Lady Royals.
©2000 Community News Group
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