In a rematch of last year’s Class B state Federation championship game, it would be the Irvington Bulldogs’ turn to storm back in the second half to overcome a big deficit.
Last year Irvington had watched a 14-point lead disappear in the second half, but in a role reversal, it was Long Island Lutheran’s turn to do the watching, as the Bulldogs rallied back to take the lead in the fourth quarter and claim the Federation title at the Times Union Center in Albany with a 74-64 win.
Irvington had played-from-behind for a majority of the game.
At one point, the Crusaders went on a 17-0 run in the first half and it looked like Irvington’s season would end for a second-straight year at the hands of Long Island Lutheran.
But Irvington wasn’t ready to call it quits when many other teams may have put their heads down.
Resilience was the key.
Despite trailing 26-13 in the second quarter, the Bulldogs never gave up and slowly began chipping away at the lead. By the half, Irvington fought back to come within five points (37-32).
Both teams would each go on a small 6-0 run in the third quarter, before Irvington would take control midway through the third quarter.
A big 26-4 run in the second half helped propel the Bulldogs to the victory and a few free throws down the stretch sealed the Crusaders’ fate.
Behind the rally was the Big Three in Brittni Lai, Lexi Martins, and Marley Giddins, along with a big contribution from sophomore Lauren Chafizadeh.
Lai finished with a team-high 18 points. Martins had 16 points and 14 rebounds, while senior Giddins, who was named the Class B state Federation tournament MVP, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. In both Federation games combined, Giddins scored 36 points and grabbed 22 rebounds.
Chafizadeh added 12 points in the second half and helped spark Irvington’s big run with two 3-pointers and converting on a big layup in transition.