ALBANY – The press was both friend and foe to the Bobcats.
Brooklyn College Academy used its defensive pressure to keep itself in the game early against Mount St. Mary’s, but the much bigger Thunder team broke it enough times to gain separation and deny the Brooklyn school a chance to play for a state Federation title.
“At first we were doing good and it kind of worked,” said junior guard Beatrice Wallace. “At the end of the game, it wasn’t working so much because they kept pushing it forward. It would be a three on one.”
Brooklyn College Academy, which trailed by 10 points early in the fourth, rallied before falling to Mount St. Mary’s (Buffalo) 56–41 in the New York State Federation Class B girls’ basketball semifinals at UAlbany on March 28. The Thunder’s size advantage was also a factor in the half court as small forward Julie Fleming dropped in a game-high 26 points.
“The big girl [Fleming], it was kind of hard for our forwards to guard her,” Wallace said. “She was getting rebounds and putting it back up. She was starting to become a problem.”
Brooklyn College Academy (26–1) was still able to claw its way back into the game after going down 37–27 when Catherine Meegan buried a three-pointer late in the shot clock. The Bobcats squad responded with a run of its own. The trey from Shajuana Henry cut the Mount St. Mary’s lead to 39–32 with 3:15 to play in the game. Wallace later had a steal and score to make it 41–36 at the 1:58 mark.
“The game was never over,” said senior guard Cierra Smalls. “If we kept playing hard, it could have been ours.”
Instead, the Bobcats watched Mount St. Mary’s (15–13) respond with a 7–0 run and not let up. Wallace paced Brooklyn College Academy with 19 points and Henry added nine. Meegan chipped in nine for the Thunder. The Bobcats trailed just 22–18 at the half, and 32–25 going into the fourth before Mount St. Mary’s slowly pulled way.
The defeat ends a historic season for Brooklyn College Academy. The school won its first girls’ basketball crown when it beat East Harlem Pride for the Public School Athletic League crown. The Bobcats lose just four seniors from this group, including forward Shaina Brown. Coach Kristin Conlon wants her returnees to compare this experience to losing in the city final a year ago.
“The kids that are returning, we want them to feel that same ‘Oh man we were so close,’ and come back and get their revenge,” Conlon said. “We learned from our experience last year and pushed forward.”
Knowing that the goal each year is now to win both city and Federation titles allows the seniors to leave with a lot of pride. Brooklyn College Academy didn’t even make the playoffs when they were freshmen.
“I’m proud that we did it this year, and we can keep it up,” Smalls said. “They can keep working hard.”