The Bishop Loughlin girls’ basketball team came so close. The Lions took a lead against undefeated St. John’s Prep into the fourth quarter and wanted to hold on for dear life. In the teams’ two regular-season meetings, the Red Storm won in routs.
“The first two times we played, it wasn’t a game,” Loughlin coach Rocco Romano said.
The Lions have come a long way since then, but not far enough to escape with a victory. St. John’s Prep survived with a 62-57 win Saturday afternoon in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division II championship game at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows.
Ayanna Battle’s 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in the third quarter gave Bishop Loughlin (12-5) a 43-42 lead heading into the fourth. An Ariel Gotay jump shot pushed the Lions’ advantage to 51-48 with 4:55 remaining in the game.
But then things fell apart. Loughlin turned the ball over and allowed SJP (16-0) to go on a 7-0 run. The Red Storm never looked back.
“I can’t even point to anything in particular,” Romano said. … “I think they just made more plays.”
Battle and Zoe Munlyn each had 12 points and Genesis Hill added 10 for Loughlin, which will play in the CHSAA Class B state tournament next Saturday against the No. 2 seed from Buffalo. Freshman Tiffany Benjamin was a force on the glass again. There two good things to take from this game for the Lions: they were able to compete almost evenly with St. John’s Prep for an entire game and their season still isn’t finished.
“It’s not over,” Battle said. “We still got states.”
Lashonda Hathorne led St. John’s Prep with 23 points, Paige Serrano had 10 points and Anna Christodolou had six of her eight points in the fourth quarter. Loughlin’s improvement made an impression on Hathorne, the division’s best player despite being only a sophomore.
"They showed us tonight that they are our [top] competitor," she said. "It's speed, the way they shoot layups."
Unfortunately for Loughlin, St. John’s Prep’s game is speed, too, and there’s no other team that can match it. The Lions took advantage of a height advantage with rebounds, but couldn’t really convert them into points.
Still, Loughlin had a chance to tie in the end. Battle’s free throw made it 60-57 St. John’s Prep with 49.8 seconds left and the Lions got the ball back. But Gotay, who was trying to get in the lane and draw contact, lost the ball, giving the Red Storm the game.
“I wanted to get Ariel to the line,” Romano said. “Let the girl’s athleticism take over.”
It didn’t work out in the end, but Loughlin will play on – with the hopes of meeting St. John’s Prep again.
“We need to get revenge,” Munlyn said. “No question about that.”