Westchester County Center has a habit of making good teams look poor against great ones during Section 1 Championship Week.
Take Saturday’s Class B final, which pitted No. 1 Irvington (20-2) against No. 2 Blind Brook (18-4).
In a gritty game in which both of Irvington’s Division 1 players picked up their fourth fouls in the third quarter, the Bulldogs captured a 73-44 win and their fourth consecutive section title by displaying a calm demeanor.
“(Coach Gina Maher) told us that we needed to start playing our game and we needed to calm down and prove why we we’re here in the first place,” Lehigh-bound Lexi Martins, who finished with 33 points, said.
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Irvington, the three-time defending state champions, advanced to face Section 9 champion Coleman Catholic 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mount St. Mary College in the first round of regional play.
Marist-bound Brittni Lai finished with 23 points for the Bulldogs, who also captured section titles from 1984-1990.
Irvington opened the game on a 5-0 run but squandered the advantage, letting the Trojans rally through their determined play to take a 8-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs had an animated team huddle in between frames but it didn’t yield immediate results as Blind Brook soon led 15-10 with 5:18 left in the second quarter, prompting an Irvington timeout.
“We started out in a 2-3 (zone) and we pressed a little,” Lai said. “(Blind Brook) has three really good players and they broke the press.”
The game was ultimately decided in the seven minutes that followed.
Irvington closed the second half on an 8-0 run and maintained a 33-19 advantage before two minutes had elapsed in the third quarter.
Blind Brook’s Jackie Lavitt fouled out in the fourth quarter, followed by Martins and teammate Ally Silfen.
“In a game like this, the officiating, you have to let the kids play,” Blind Brook coach Manny Martinez said. “You can’t let one team play at one end and the other team can’t play at the other end.”
Blind Brook, which was trounced 68-33 in last year’s final, got as close as 49-35 in the second half.
“It was disappointing,” Martinez said. “It’s frustrating. I felt that we had a good game plan and we hung in there for a long time. I don’t think the (score) is indicative of how hard this game was played.”
Silfen finished with 24 points and Lea Saliba added 12 for the Trojans, who last captured a Section 1 title as member of Class C in 2007.