WHITE PLAINS – Despite beating Ardsley earlier this season, despite being the top-ranked team in the state, despite having the winningest girls basketball coach in Section 1 history and despite having a program that has won four of the last five Class B gold balls, people doubted Irvington.
Some thought Irvington wasn’t the same team without now-Division I players Lexi Martins and Brittni Lai. Some thought it was because Ardsley was thriving under Marc Hattem, who won all 18 games he coached entering Saturday after taking over midseason. Some thought Ardsley was simply the more talented team.
Irvington doesn’t care what any of the doubters think. The top-seeded Bulldogs have a thrilling 50-48 championship win and another gold ball to add to their trophy case that will do all the talking for them.
“You can never measure hard work,” Irvington coach Gina Maher said. “All of the girls on this team care about each other; they just work hard. They love each other – I love this team.”
Ardsley senior Casey Foley was able to get off a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds, but it hit off the rim and the second-seeded Panthers were unable to get another attempt before the final buzzer.
It’s the Bulldogs their fifth gold ball in six years.
Sophomore Lindsay Halpin, who said after Thursday’s semifinal win over Pleasantville that she wanted to earn a gold ball this year, was named tournament MVP after tying Foley with a game-high 17 points. The sharpshooting guard opened the second half with three 3-pointers to spark Irvington out of the gate.
“We just came out with fire,” Halpin said. “I just wanted to (make) the lead higher, and that’s exactly what we did. Our motivation from the people on the bench helped us do that.”
While Halpin was the brightest-shining star on Saturday at the County Center, Irvington got key contributions from virtually every player, particularly its seniors. Catherine Hoy added 14 points and was prolific on offense; Havanna Hall chipped in 10 points; Roxy Trama shut down Ardsley’s dominant power forward Nicolina Chenard, holding her to just four points.
Irvington was able to make some halftime adjustments on Panthers senior Isabella DePasquale, who scored 11 points in the first half, but was held scoreless after the break.
“It’s a great, great win against a great team,” said Maher, who said the team was going to the Tarrytown Diner to celebrate the win, a ritual after winning a gold ball. “It doesn’t get old. It never gets old.”