By Tom Pedulla—
Irvington coach Gina Maher wanted badly for the seven seniors on her girls’ basketball team to experience the magic of competing for Class B supremacy at the Westchester County Center. It was not to be.
The second-seeded Bulldogs never got their offense untracked against Croton-Harmon’s zone defense and were upset by the seventh-seeded Tigers 45-35 on Feb. 21.
“They outplayed us,” Maher said. “They played very, very well. They played a great game. No excuses.”
She added: “We have to look forward and, hopefully, play some ball in the offseason and get better.”
Irvington had prepared for the visitors’ 1-2-2 zone defense but was never able to sustain much success against it. The Bulldogs fell behind 14-0 before senior Amanda Raimondo finally connected inside with 1:40 left in the opening quarter.
Irvington put forth a tremendous effort to erase that deficit and finally pulled ahead when Elizabeth Brereton nailed a three-pointer before Emmaline LeBuhn sank a foul shot to create a slim 31-30 margin through three quarters. LeBuhn, a senior, finished with a team-leading 11 points.
Brereton’s bank shot made it 33-30, but Croton-Harmon would not be turned away. The Tigers rattled off 11 consecutive points, leaving the Bulldogs with too much to do and not enough time to do it.
“As a senior, you never want to end your season with a loss,” said Claire Friedlander. “I really didn’t think this would be the game that we would go out.”
Neither did sophomore guard Alyson Raimondo, who should provide a major building block for future success. “I’m really sad because we all wanted to go farther,” she said. “It’s really upsetting that our season has ended already.”
The Bulldogs encountered a 14-8 Croton-Harmon team that appears to be peaking at the ideal time and was not at all intimidated by the reputation or high seeding of its opponent. The outcome provided a vivid reminder of how treacherous postseason play can be.
“It’s a great game, basketball. Anything can happen,” Friedlander said. “We always talk about how anything can happen in the playoffs.”
Despite the abrupt end, Irvington was able to find a significant measure of consolation in its final record of 17-5 that included victories against such top teams as Ossining. “They’re a great group of kids,” Maher said. “Our theme is to hold the rope and they certainly held the rope for each other through a lot of stuff this year and they did it very well. They are a wonderful group of young women.
“I hope they will remember the good things that happened, the team dinners and the bonding that they made and the friendships they made and how for the rest of their lives they can rely on kids they played Irvington basketball with. Hopefully, in the end, that is what matters.”
In time, her players will grasp the big picture and treasure the memories they created. But for one perplexing afternoon, tears welled in their eyes while Croton-Harmon danced in celebration of a victory that perhaps only the Tigers believed was possible.Read or leave a comment on this story...