BROOKLYN, NY - Francis Lewis HS trailed South Shore 8-1 with 4:19 left in the first period of the PSAL Girl's Class "AA" Championship basketball game. But head coach Stephen Tsai called a timeout to settle his troops.
The Lady Patriots proceeded to go on a 10-3 run, spurred by two three pointers by sophomore guard/forward Sierra Green, to take an 11-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Green's two first period treys helped to ignite her and her Francis Lewis teammates, as they went on to knockoff the Lady Vikings, 65-58, Saturday at the Barclays Center to claim their first title since 1978.
Green drained a team-high 21 points while junior guard Chi La Bady added 19 in the victory.
Knowing that he needed to make Francis Lewis' outside game more effective, Tsai decided to go inside more first, with the intent of opening up his star's offensive game.
"For us, we have to attack inside first and when we attack inside, then the outside opens up," Tsai explained. "Sierra is sometimes the benefit of people attacking inside because when defenders come to protect the inside, then she becomes open on the outside. Sierra is one of those girls that has no conscience and when we have no offense she's capable of making something happen for us."
Though the Lady Vikings dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Lady Patriots 55-38, it was the opposition's defensive press that forced them to turn the ball over more than coach Anwar Gladden expected.
"I was surprised. We worked on the press all season long," the 12-year coach said. "We did a great job of handling the press. We knew that would be our Achilles' heel. I'm surprised we turned it over 19 times. It was tough."
However, Gladden didn't take anything away from Francis Lewis' victory.
"They were ready to play today," he said. "When it comes to situations like this, It's about who plays the best within those 32 minutes. Francis Lewis was a good team all year. Let's not forget that. We didn't play a bad team today. We played a very good team, and they played well today."
Junior forward Brianna Fraser, who is committed to Maryland University, pumped in a game-high 26 points, and grabbed 15 rebounds while Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi-recruit Emmeri Archer and junior guard Ashley McDonald chipped in with 11 and 10, respectively, for South Shore.