By Vincent Z. Mercogliano
NEWBURGH — Irvington’s Ryan McMahon often gets overlooked on a team that features two future Division I players, but not on Tuesday. The senior guard led the Bulldogs with 23 points, as Irvington defeated Section 9 champ Coleman Catholic 86-49 in its Class B regional semifinal at Mount St. Mary’s College.
“Of course, it’s about our entire team, but teams usually see on film that (Lehigh-bound) Lexi (Martins) and (Marist-bound) Brittni (Lai) stand out,” McMahon said. “Me, Lauren (Chafizadeh) and Alyssa (DiCampli) definitely had to step up.”
McMahon ignited the Bulldogs early, scoring 17 points in a lights-out first half in which she drained three 3-pointers. She also finished with six assists.
“I don’t know what it was,” she said. “It was crazy.”
Irvington went on a 15-0 run in the first quarter and led 30-11 going into the second, but Coleman Catholic began to show signs of life before halftime. The Bulldogs outscored the Stateswomen only 19-16 in the second quarter, but they would pick it back up in the second half.
“(Coach Gina Maher) was very excited with our start-up, but she said, ‘This game isn’t over until it’s over,’ ” Martins said.
Coleman Catholic has three girls on its roster over 6-foot tall, so Martins’ presence inside was especially important. She finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and made 12 of 16 free throws.
“I definitely knew they were big girls who could score at will in the paint,” Martins said. “Alyssa and I knew we had to be tough inside.”
Irvington countered that size with its quickness, as Lai racked up an impressive nine steals to go along with her 19 points and eight assists.
“That was a big part of our game plan,” McMahon said. “We knew how we have to play on defense, and it led to good offense. Our game plan was to speed it up in transition.”
The Bulldogs will face the winner of Section 8’s Cold Spring Harbor and Section 11’s Southampton in the Class B regional final on Friday at 7 p.m. at Hofstra University as they continue their quest for a fourth consecutive state title.
They will usher in a new era next season with key players such as McMahon, Lai, Martins and DiCampli all graduating, but Lai says they don’t feel any external pressure.
“We want to do it for ourselves,” Lai said. “It’s senior year and we have a lot of seniors on the team, so we just want to continuewinning for us, the team, and for Irvington.”