NEW YORK, NY - It all came down to this. After a grueling summer long competition, the high school girls division championship of Kenny Graham's West 4th Street tournament featured two premier NY teams.
The Lady Gauchos from the Bronx, NY representing the NYC and the Westchester Hoopers with talent from New York State and surrounding areas.
In a thrilling finale, The Lady Choz, who led by as much as 15 points, would stave off multiple comeback attempts from the Hoopers. Murry Bergtram's PG Ashanae McLaughlin would come up big in the fourth quarter, ensuring that the Gauchos would take home massive first place trophies along with a ton of very cool championship hardware, winning 67-55.
"This was big," said McLaughlin as she clutched a trophy that was literally taller than she was. "We were the defending champions so this was an accomplishment for us." The rising senior guard, who scored 15 points including two critical back-to-back treys, won MVP honors.
In the opening quarter, the Lady Choz came out firing as 6'2" UK bound Batouly Camara (15 points) and 5'6" Siena commit Joella Gibson (10 points) pounded the Hoopers, scoring inside and out. The Westchester based team tried to respond as Kadijah Jones (14 points) and 5'11" rising New Rochelle, NY senior Asjha White (10 points) countered with a few bucket but Hoopers found themselves in a 37-25 hole at the half.
In the third quarter, the Westchester Hoopers made a push and cut their deficit to 40-35 led by Jones who powered up and scored 8 of her 14 points. The pressure was on but the Choz managed to hunker down defensively and led by eight points to begin the final quarter.
The Hoopers made a final push early in the fourth quarter and with 6:50 remaining in regulation, sliced the Lady Gauchos lead to 49-43 but that's as close as they would get. South Shore HS's 6'3" Maryland bound Brianna Fraser (14 points) imposed her will in the paint with McLaughlin quarterbacking her team masterfully down the stretch. Soon, the Choz' lead was back up 14 points with 1:59 left to play. The Lady Gauchos held on for the twelve point win to once again rule the W. 4th Street roost.
Lady Gauchos head coach Earl Elliotte said, "Our defensive pressure was able to produce turnovers which led to easy baskets" when asked about the keys to victory. He also added that it was a team effort.