First title since 1993 for Manhasset
Caitlin Barrett would, in one way or another, have a hand in determining Manhasset’s fate.
It was her free throw with 0.2 seconds left in regulation that tied the Long Island Class A girls title game against Shoreham-Wading River (SWR).
In the extra period, Manhasset dominated the Suffolk champs 13-6 as Barrett netted seven of her game-leading 20 points.
The 58-51 win at SUNY Farmingdale on March 11 put the Indians (24-1) into the state semifinals. They will face Rochester area champ Canandaigua (20-5) on March 17 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
It was Manhasset’s first LI title since 1993.
Barrett had also come up with the go-ahead bucket in a 41-39 Nassau Class A semi win against Bethpage.
“You’re my hero, baby,” Ali McIntyre told Barrett after a celebratory hug.
The postgame celebration would not have happened if wasn’t for Barrett’s heroics.
The Wildcats took their biggest lead since the first quarter, 45-39, with just over one minute left in regulation. It did not matter that Manhasset had already missed its first dozen or so attempts from the 3-point arc. When Barrett connected with a trey with 57.6 seconds remaining, it shook the Indian cheering section out of a worried funk and set the stage for a frenetic final minute of regulation.
Eighteen seconds later, Nicoletta Tsiamis (10 points) threaded the lane to sink a layup and bring the Indians within one.
Both teams then proceeded to miss scoring chances, as well as turn the ball over.
Mia LoPinto had her own chance at clinching the win when she launched a 3-point shot from the corner. It glanced off the rim and into Barrett’s arms. She was fouled by Haylie Abrams as she attempted a shot, setting up the tie-clinching free throw.
“I was so nervous,” Barrett admitted, especially with a loud and raucous SWR cheering section trying to rattle her.
“I thought [LoPinto] was going to hit that 3 at the buzzer and end it—that would have been amazing,” Manhasset coach Lauren Sadeh said. “This is what I expected today. I expected it was going to come down to the wire and someone is going to make that better IQ type of play. And it was Caitlin Barrett, not surprising.”
Sadeh said she was feeling confident going into OT and told her players, “Somebody set it up this way and we’re going to roll with it and we’re going to win this game. The momentum is in our favor now. So keep battling, keep being aggressive.”
The coach’s confidence increased when SWR won possession but missed its first shot in the extra period.
“When did you think you had the game in hand?” Barrett was asked.
“That first possession in overtime,” she replied. “We had the crowd going. We came back from a deficit—we were down 16 7 in the first quarter—and really worked so hard to overcome that. And our chemistry and togetherness made it all work.”
Added Lauren Perfetto, “Going into overtime, we knew in our hearts that we had to wipe that fourth quarter away, forget about the mistakes and [approach it] like it was a new game.”
Perfetto opened the scoring in the four-minute extra period, putting back a miss.
Barrett scored the next four points as the Indians opened up a 51-45 lead with 1:53 remaining.
A three-point play by Kelsey Hughes closed the gap for the Wildcats, but Manhasset was not to be denied, with a short corner jumper by Ali McIntyre giving the Indians breathing room.
SWR had to resort to fouling, and Barrett and LoPinto (7 points) closed out the scoring from the charity stripe.
“Did you feel, at that point, down by six with about a minute left, that the game was out of reach?” Barrett was asked.
“Maybe for a second,” she replied. “But with our mentality and our chemistry and our togetherness, I knew that somehow we could pull something like this off. Just like in the Bethpage game, we were down and we came up with the win.”
SWR started out as if it would blow the game open early. With Manhasset’s shooting ice cold, the Wildcats build up leads of 10-2 and 16-7 before Perfetto (12 points) scored a pair of free throws to complete the opening quarter.
“I was toying whether to call a time out or let them work it out,” Sadeh said of the first quarter. “In the back of my mind, I felt I had to hold on to some of those time outs because they’re crucial at the end of the game.”
Her players, she added, “worked it out. They figured it out. I think that’s the difference between this year’s team and some of my past teams—they found it somewhere to figure things out. They work together and I knew that if we could get through the first quarter [it would be] for them a mental reset.”
“Did you make any adjustments for the second quarter?” Sadeh was asked.
“I think we needed to clog up the middle,” she replied. “And the kids who came off the bench were tremendous in that second quarter.”
She was referring to subs Chrisi Ladopoulos and Lauren Connolly.
“Connolly gave you big minutes,” a reporter told Sadeh of the 6-foot freshman.
“She did. She’s such a great kid,” Sadeh said. “We’ve been pumping her all week, knowing what we could get out of her. Knowing that when she stepped onto the court, she was going to be the tallest kid out there.”
The Indians held the Suffolk champs without a field goal in the second quarter to go up 21-18 at the break. Manhasset maintained the lead until 5:25 left in the game, when the Wildcats pulled ahead 37-36 and expanded the lead until Manhasset began its comeback.
Assistant coach Chuck Collyer was guiding the 1993 team that last took home the Long Island crown.
“You gotta believe,” he said simply of the comeback. “At the beginning of the game we turned the ball over the first three times we went down the court. That was nerves. Things looked bleak, but you gotta believe. When Barrett hit that 3 it was big. And that energy just carried over into the overtime.”
“This is a great moment for our [program],” Perfetto said. “None of us had done this before and we knew we had to pull through on games like this. We believed in ourselves.”
“What did the win mean for the program?” Sadeh was asked.
She replied, “That it wasn’t a fluke. Everybody you talk to, the first thing that comes up when you say ‘Manhasset’ is ‘lacrosse,’ right? But if you get the right kids on your team and they’re tremendous athletes and get them to buy into your system, you can do whatever you want. And I think this [game] is a perfect example of this team. We didn’t get lucky against Bethpage. We didn’t get lucky against Lynbrook. At some point you’ve got to believe that you have the kids who are going to make the big time plays and come up with the shots. And I think this seals the deal.”
Sadeh said she told her team, “I didn’t take one shot. I didn’t make one pass. You guys did this and you guys trusted in one another and believed in one another all year and it just shows.”
Offensive rebounds were also a big part of the win and she praised McIntyre and Perfetto for having a knack for finding gaps and angles to snatch boards.
“Again, it’s an IQ thing—you’re not just jumping blindly thinking you’re going to get [the ball],” she observed.
Collyer estimates that he has coached about 130 sports seasons over his many years at Manhasset.
“This ranks right up there,” he said of the victory. “I told the girls, ‘I’ve got memories of 30 years ago. How about giving me a whole bunch of new memories?’”