After meeting the last three years for the state Federation championship, Irvington earned its third win over Long Island Lutheran in the last four seasons. The Bulldogs beat the private-school power 59-58 in the semifinals of the Slam Dunk at the County Center.
Senior Alexis Martins led Irvington with 22 points, 17 rebounds and five steals. Teammate Brittni Lai sank two clutch free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining to give her team its final lead.
“Whenever we’re down, we don’t let it get to us,” Lai said. “We know we can come back and win.”
Lai had missed two free throws in the final two minutes. The Bulldogs missed two others, allowing Long Island Lutheran back in the game.
“Before I went up, I was thinking, man, if I made those before we’d be up already,” Lai said. “I just had to come back and make them.”
Irvington, which beat Long Island Lutheran to win the 2010 and 2012 Federation championships but lost in the 2011 final, trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before a basket by Martins two minutes into the fourth quarter gave the team its first lead. The Bulldogs held that lead for much of the fourth quarter. Four missed free throws in the final two minutes allowed Long Island Lutheran to pull ahead 58-57 on a layup by Boogs Brozoski with 40 seconds remaining.
“We just fought,” Irvington coach Gina Maher said.
The teams will not meet for a fourth straight season at the Federation tournament because Long Island Lutheran has been moved up to Class A.
“I’d love to scrimmage them,” Maher said. “We have a great rivalry.”