BRIARCLIFF MANOR – It all happened so fast that even if Briarcliff knew what was coming, there was little that could’ve been done to stop it.
What was an 11-point Bears lead going into the fourth quarter turned into a 71-57 season-opening loss to Irvington Tuesday night.
“We got tired and we panicked,” Briarcliff head coach Don Hamlin said. “We stopped moving.”
The fourth quarter between Briarcliff and Irvington looked more like a six-second Vine on repeat than an eight-minute quarter played out.
“Thank God that happened to us today, and not in February,” Hamlin said.
Between Briarcliff losing its best player to injury in the third quarter and Irvington’s smothering press defense, it became apparent just how valuable junior point guard Carly Fanelli is to Briarcliff and how dangerous the Bulldogs can be despite using only one returning starter.
Fanelli, an all-state guard as a freshman, suffered a right knee injury midway through the third quarter and did not return.
Irvington head coach Gina Maher said she hopes this team will “learn” throughout the season, with winning bound to follow.
“I’m expecting it to be up and down,” Maher said. “I think we’re going to have games like this where we come back and we’re successful, and I think there will be some where we might not be (successful), but hopefully by the end of the season, we’ll be there.”
Most of Irvington’s players might be getting their first taste of major varsity minutes, but the message was sent loud and clear Tuesday that the Bulldogs can hang with — and are among — the best.
Player of the game: Lindsay Halpin, Irvington: The junior point guard finished with a game-high 24 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. “She took over,” Maher said.
Turning point: Briarcliff junior guard Fanelli went down with a knee injury midway through the third quarter as the Bears were starting to put a run together.
Stat line: Halpin was one of three double-digit scorers for the Bulldogs, joining Nina Valdes (16 points) and Heather Hall (15). … Junior guard Jackie Contento led the Bears with 18 points, while eighth-grader Alana Lombardi added 16 points.
Quotable: “We played a very good team, were handling them for most of the game, and then we had a meltdown of epic proportions,” Hamlin said, assessing the game.